NICOSIA - After the first round of soft talks in four years about how to reunify Cyprus fell apart in hours, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he won’t sit down at the table again as long as Turkey and Turkish-Cypriots insist on two states.
Anastasiades - who said he wouldn’t bargain as long as Turkey kept drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters but then did - attended a meeting in Geneva that included Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar and the three guarantors of security for the island, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
They were brought together in Geneva, Switzerland for the so-called 5 + 1 talks by United Nations Secretary-General Antonion Guterres, who presided over a debacle in July, 2017 when negotiations broke apart then too.
That was at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, Anastasiades giving up there when the Turkish-Cypriots and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a 35,000-strong standing army on the northern third occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion would never be removed.
They also wanted the right of military intervention but this time - with Tatar ousting moderate Turkish-Cypriot former leader Mustafa Akinci in October, 2020 elections - said he would follow the lead of Erdogan in wanting two states.
That would create a permanent partition, end any reunification hopes and bring recognition to the occupied territory that’s unaccepted in the world by any country other than Turkey, with Erdogan calling the shots for Turkish-Cypriots.
Anastasiades said after the failure in Geneva, in which Tatar and the Turks wouldn’t budge, that, “We will continue to work with the same consistency to find a solution that will reunite our country on the basis of the bizonal, bicommunal federation,”that has also failed.
He said the two-state idea is a violation of powerless UN resolutions that Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriots ignored in partially reopening a beach at the abandoned resort of Varosha on the occupied side.
Guterres admitted there was no common ground to be found between the parties but said he would try the same failed approach again in a few months although Tatar said he won’t discuss anything other than recognition for the occupied territory.
That could bring de facto acceptance of the territory with a foreign army in a European Union country - the Greek-Cypriot side is a member of the bloc but Turkey doesn’t recognize it and bars Cypriot ships and planes.
Guterres admitted the conference was not easy but insisted “we will not give up,” said Kathimerini, adding that all the parties said they would meet again before Anastasiades said he won’t, although has changed his mind before.
Anastasiades read a 13-page statement, which was not submitted in writing, referring to a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as a compromise but Tatar said he wants no part of it.
Tatar insisted the goal of negotiations should be the sovereign equality of the two sides as the Turkish-Cypriot community, he said, is one of the parties that founded the Cyprus Republic in 1960.
That was in a document that the newspaper said it had seen, with Tatar - who would have already won - saying he would then agree to negotiations under the auspices of Guterres after forcing acceptance of only his radical proposal.