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22° Nicosia,
20 May, 2019
 
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Whatever Guterres says he will be met with a yes

Michalis Tsikalas takes issue with minor snags while scratching the surface of something bigger

Michalis Tsikalas

Michalis Tsikalas

Last week was reminiscent of aerial dogfights even though there are essentially no Cypriot fighter jets here. They came from Greece and flew over Nicosia’s Independence Day parade, getting praise from some people while others were annoyed. 

You may say this was last week’s news, what are you on about? The jets flew at such a low altitude affecting our estrogen levels and causing glass windows to shake, along with Left opposition party AKEL which was also shaken as it did not like the planes one bit. But this is not the first time. After all, joint aches and shaking are typically felt on the left when it comes to anything of a military nature that somehow strains the demilitarised vision for countries and regions. 

This begs the question whether or not AKEL wants any relations with Greece, political or otherwise. Or does the party only draw the line at the sight of fighter jets piercing through the sky? 

We can put this down as a snag, but there’s a bigger issue here. Farther away, beyond Greece and Cyprus, other windows were shaking over the last few weeks that pale in comparison to what lies ahead. 

The window of opportunity is closing because the UNSG is coming to an understanding of the outer limits of both sides

I’m referring to diplomatic developments that fly above our heads in such a short distance, shorter than those F-16 jets over our rooftops. There is no way that Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, is unaware of what is going on with Greece and Turkey vis a vis the Cyprus Problem, even before getting the report. And we know about Greece, but we have no idea about Turkey.

Everyone denies knowing any details in the slightest. But the SG already knows. Those who know better than me, in fact, say so. And it all boils down to Mr. Guterres’ reaction to whatever he already knows from Ms. Lute. That’s where he will focus, on the juicy part of the Cyprus question and he will require this and that from us in order to move forward. 

This translates (if I may say so) into saying ‘let’s back down on a couple of steps so we can finally move forward’. And I’m figuring this out on a simple basis, if all we hear is accurate, and it probably is given that the windows of opportunity are closing as we have been told by ruling party DISY and AKEL.

Turkey insists on having a say in the future of Cyprus. If people don’t understand this point, then I see no reason why they should be involved in the discussion. Because we don’t want Turkey to be involved and now we have a dead end in front of us riddled with foreign diplomatic challenges.

Can we rule out that the UNSG himself will come out and tell us we should back down on the issue? And what exactly does ‘backing down’ mean? Practically speaking, I mean, not just in political terms. Is it a timeline for Turkish troops to leave the island? How much time would that be? Until Turkey can be sure that we will behave as good children? That’s a reference for those who remember. And isn’t this the reason why negotiation talks collapsed in the first place at Crans Montana?

The window of opportunity is closing

What I want to say is this: the window of opportunity is closing because the UNSG is coming to an understanding of the outer limits of both sides. He will certainly make a move, but who is to say that he won’t ask our side to take a few steps back?

The issue at hand calls for a thoughtful approach, not a 360 degree turn going from ‘seeking solution’ to ‘we are not going anywhere’ and ‘criticism for criticism’s sake’. In this light, the gripe with the F-16 gets demoded since Guterres’ argument won’t relate to a fighter jet flying over your head for you to complain about. I wish it was that simple. Guterres’ argument, in order to carry the conversation forward, will be as heavy as a jumbo jet.

So what are we to tell Guterres when the man says something? Well, yes, apparently, what else could we say? Otherwise do we want to get the blame for the dead end? Do we want everyone including the UN Security Council to make out that the Greek Cypriot side doesn’t want a solution because it doesn’t want a compromise, whether we call it painful or otherwise?

And finally, when we say ‘painful compromise’, are we referring to the content of the BBF (bizonal, bicommunal federation) or the few steps back by the Greek Cypriot side should we ever reach that point?

To put it simply, gentlemen, we are at a dead end whether we want to understand this or not. I’m just waiting to see what the SG will propose and what will be our response. That’s on all of us. And then we’ll talk again…

 

Published by Kathimerini Cyprus (7 October 2018)

TAGS
Cyprus  |  UN  |  Greece  |  Turkey  |  AKEL  |  DISY  |  Guterres  |  Tsikalas

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