NICOSIA – His two terms of 10 years ending in February, 2023 when elections will be held, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he will take with him the loss of not being able to bring the island together again.
Cyprus has been divided since Turkey invaded in 1974, which saw the seizure of the northern third and Turkish-Cypriots setting up a self-declared Republic that no other country in the world apart from Turkey recognizes.
Anastasiades told the Greek newspaper Ta Nea that, “I carry a weight, because I am completing my term as President, without having achieved the most important goal I had set, the solution of the Cyprus problem.”
There was hope when the Turkish-Cypriots elected a moderate, Mustafa Akinci, as their leader but he and Anastasiades never got close to finding a common ground and failed to find the answer.
The last round of reunification talks collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Akinci and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a 35,000-strong standing army on the occupied side would never be removed and as they demanded the right to invade again.
Anastasiades said that he made “superhuman efforts” and had made progress with Akinci but the talks were secret and few details emerged, Greek-Cypriots and the Turkish side not let in on how their fate was being handled.
But Anastasiades said despite some reports that he was not the one who gave up in Switzerland and didn’t walk away from the bargaining table, which former United Nations envoy Espen Barth Eide said was the case.
He said that after the Crans-Montana debacle that he kept trying to restart talks but that the Turkish side insisted it had the right to keep control of part of the island and wouldn’t relent.
“It did not allow us to achieve the desired reunification of our homeland on the basis of bizonal, bicommunal federation,” he said and now Ersin Tatar, the hardline leader who replaced Akinci, said he won’t talk reunification and has demanded only that the UN instead recognize the occupied territory.