Letter from Athens: The Chilly Charade of Cyprus Reunification Non-Talks

After another round of non-talks went nowhere fast, look for Useless Nations Secretary-Private Antonio Gutless Guterres to issue a non-paper holding everybody – especially himself – blameless for a cold meeting aimed at trying to find “common ground” to discuss reunification of Cyprus.

That was at the so-called 5 + 1 talks in Geneva, Switzerland, a favorite playground of diplomats, where he called together all the parties who have interests on the island divided since an unlawful 1974 Turkish invasion.

They should have been called the 1 + 1 talks since the only real powers there were Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriots demanding recognition for the occupied northern third while Turkey doesn't recognize Cyprus, a member of the Eunuch Union.

Only Turkey recognizes the self-declared taffy republic on the occupied side. President/Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his power and prestige slipping in the region otherwise, still has clout over Cyprus, where Turkish ships are continuing to hunt for oil and gas in Cypriot waters.

That's in defiance of soft EU sanctions against two Turkish state-owned petroleum company executives, making the penalties as powerless as a UN resolution condemning human rights abuses around the world, including in Turkey.

This silliness, pretending the island will be reunited at the same time Erdogan said Turkey will “never” remove a 35,000-strong standing army on an island where the legitimate government is in the EU, has been going on for decades.

Four years after the last round of talks collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana – Switzerland's not working out so about a radical destination such as Cyprus to meet? – the scam sham went on again.

A photo of the protagonists, masked up for COVID-19 and staying far away from each other at the table and talking gibberish, looked right out of a Monty Python sketch, except even those comics couldn't parody this debacle.

It showed you can't joust on high horses nor find common ground in a swamp. It was doomed from the outset with Erdogan saying Turkey was interested only in two separate states and permanent partition.

His water carrier, Turkish-Cypriot hardhead nationalist leader Ersin Tatar, made it clear he was there just to do Erdogan's bidding and maybe bring him back a souvenir from Switzerland and shine the Turkish President's shoes on return.

There's a reason Cyprus is called “the graveyard of diplomats,” who keep thinking diplomacy will work, and the body count added six more in Geneva, but Gutless said he'll try again in a few months.

We'll save you some time: we're going to recycle the same story with a different date on it and here's a preview of the coming headline: UN CHIEF SAYS NO COMMON GROUND IN CYPRUS TALKS (put date here and save.)

Demosthenes spoke clearer than these guys, and that was even after he put pebbles in his mouth as an exercise for refining his troubled speech. There should have been a translator for spin and gobbledygook in Geneva.

No date or place has been set for the next chit-chat that will undoubtedly be labeled, non-binding and non-caring but let's shoot for summer at some other fancy resort with lockdowns lifted and a 5-star luxury resort at hand.

Erdogan plays these guys like a Stradivarius, but if he buffaloes his way to getting his way it would be the end of Cyprus as we know it.

And all that's standing up against him is Greece and Anastasiades, who is fending off corruption accusations about a Golden Visa scheme that ended in scandal.

This is how asinine the farce is, the insanity of having the same talks over and over again, and expecting a different result even when both sides go in knowing neither will bend but blame the other for intransigence.

A big sign over the table said the talks were INFORMAL. So why hold them? Why go to Geneva for informal talks. When do the ‘formal’ talks begin? Scratch that, you can't even say they were “talks,” because that violates the rules of this kind of diplomacy.

Anastasiades had said he wouldn't talk – make that sit down at the table – again as long as Turkey was drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters – but he did anyway, showing weakness from the get-go, which to Erdogan is like blood to a shark.

Anastasiades read a 13-page statement, which wasn't submitted in writing, referring to a bizonal, bicommunal federation – with political equality as a compromise but Tatar said he wants no part of it.o

Tatar insisted the goal of negotiations should be the 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 Kathimerini said it had seen, with Tatar – who would have already won – saying if two states were accepted he would agree to negotiations under the UN's auspices after forcing acceptance of his proposal.

Translation for those who don't understand B.S.: he will agree to negotiate his victory after he has already won it.

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 failed. Stop, my head is hurting. Let's not talk.


This article is part of a continuing series dealing with reports of Greek POWs in Asia Minor in the Thessaloniki newspaper, Makedonia in July 1936.

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