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26 June, 2024
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Anastasiades’ secret talks with Turkey revealed

Political clichés and accusations: The Cyprus problem debate

George Kakouris

George Kakouris

In a paradoxical twist, Crans Montana resurfaced in the news a few days ago, with multiple sources and testimonies suggesting that former President Anastasiades made overtures to the Turkish side for a confederation or two-state solution. This is paradoxical because the Cyprus issue is notably absent from the pre-election agenda, with no major party wanting to include it, leading to the swift dissipation of this renewed debate.

The reference was made by Averof Neophytou in the podcast "Legal Matters," yet it was more of a rhetorical challenge than a clear revelation. Neophytou called for former President Anastasiades and current President Christodoulides to disclose what was discussed and with whom they met at the Peninsula Hotel in New York in September 2018.

The intrigue is noteworthy, but the statement falls into the well-worn political clichés typical of the Greek Cypriot leadership. The rhetoric, akin to "I won't say it, but if I did, many would lose sleep," serves not to reveal the truth but to send a tactical political message, potentially pressuring another political figure to act differently.

However, such statements often amount to nothing, leaving the public to question the credibility of the accuser and wonder when any concrete evidence will be presented, if at all. In a nation run by lawyers and accountants, words are measured carefully, avoiding direct confrontations. The goal should be to prevent national crises, not merely warn of them. If exposing uncomfortable truths jeopardises political careers, so be it.

Neophytou’s accusation did not make a significant impact, partly because it was indirect and partly because it is known that President Anastasiades had considered less federal solutions to the Cyprus problem after Crans Montana. This fact does not disturb the majority of the public, or at least not enough to create a significant reaction. Anastasiades was re-elected with the support of the media and politicians who later expressed regret for not pushing for a more decisive break.

This context makes the recent remarks by former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to CNA unsurprising. Juncker pointed out that during the last negotiation process, the Greek Cypriot side was not ready to take the necessary leap.

We are aware of this. Even our friends outside Cyprus understood this in 2017, and the disappointment lies in the fact that it was acknowledged without any attempt to maintain a balanced perspective. It’s known that President Anastasiades, perhaps in a moment of weakness, reflected the internal conflict many Greek Cypriots feel about the Cyprus issue – "perhaps we should be better at handling it".

As Dionysis Savvopoulos adapted from Bob Dylan's "Wicked Messenger," the sentiment remains: "since he had no pleasant news to say he had better not tell us any." This might be what the Greek Cypriot political class would say to Mr. Juncker. However, it should also apply to Mr. Neophytou and others who stop short of fully addressing the failures at Crans Montana and assigning blame to those who did not press Turkey sufficiently. If they have no unpleasant news to tell, they had better tell us none.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]


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