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12° Nicosia,
05 February, 2023
 
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Shocking! No resolution on the Cyprus issue

'After years of total and disgraceful inaction, the Cypriot government is now only capable of providing defense—or, to put it more diplomatically, deterrence.'

Opinion

Opinion

by George Kakouris

Was it unfair that Miroslav Jenca, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia, and the Americas, met with President Anastasiades and TC leader Ersin Tatar? It is rather obvious to anyone who follows the Cyprus issue, even superficially, that no one - and that includes the Greek Cypriot side - is willing to engage. This is true despite the President's tour of various nations, where he tried to persuade them that he can activate a process on the Cyprus problem. Likewise, despite the government's efforts to present old MoU proposals to unlock the process.

The fact that the government has remembered to send the message that it does not expect progress after the failures of the last five years is provocative

After years of total and disgraceful inaction, the Cypriot government is now only capable of providing defense—or, to put it more diplomatically, deterrence. Mr. Jenca, who is currently (and rightfully) more concerned with climate change, left Nicosia after stating that it had been "a very frank, very constructive discussion" and reiterating the commitment of the UN Secretary-General. When asked if a UN representative could visit Cyprus again before the elections, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, who was present at the meeting, put an end to any hopes that his political boss had raised by responding, "If there is no movement and the situation continues as it is today, probably not."

He continued, referring in the simplest terms to why Christodoulides, Neophytou, and Mavroyiannis are not in the mood or going to present new ideas on the Cyprus problem. "You understand that when you are in a period of elections and such a degree of dissatisfaction is created in the Cypriot public opinion, the candidates, none of them except one, are obliged to make commitments from which, whoever is elected, it will be difficult to come back afterward.

He continued by saying that he issued his warning about Famagusta so that the Republic of Cyprus could act ahead of time "What difference does it make if they do it later? In fact, at this time, we do not anticipate taking any immediate action. We'll probably find out later."

These remarks are a step up from the Koussios Doctrine ("What should the government have done and did not do?," 8/10/2020, "Morning Review" on Politis 107.6), but they are insufficient because the Cyprus issue shouldn't be left to defensive formulations and because those who disapproved of Anastasiades' defiant absence should have tried to reach an agreement earlier.

So we've gone from the Presidency channeling media pretentiousness about initiatives and appeals to the EU and Emmanuel Macron to get involved in the Cyprus problem to the admission that we should finally leave the President alone to go through the final weeks of his term without demanding, the uninformed, that he has a plan and a plan to deal with the consequences of his inaction after Crans Montana.

Mobilization on the Cyprus issue occurs when at least one of two conditions exists: encouragement and pressure from abroad for regional and other reasons, or a willingness to make progress by Nicosia's leaders and the political classes surrounding them. The harsh reality is that neither of these conditions currently apply. The situation would be manageable if any of the parties involved made serious, not reactive, but proactive, efforts to make progress.

However, at a time when the international environment is changing, the region's subsystem is almost completely unstable. The Cyprus "Quartet" is effectively ungoverned because Cyprus, Turkey, and Greece are all holding elections, and the TC side is ungoverned.

The Cypriot government is barely making defensive moves, and the presidential candidates are afraid to propose anything substantive; the official TC side is floating on Mr. Tatar's two-state nirvana, and the TC opposition is paralyzed with no support from anyone; the government of Mr. Mitsotakis is now thinking only in terms of Watergate and political survival, and Mr. Erdogan is moving with the sole goal of re-election to avoid being imprisoned.

The fact that the government has remembered to send the message that it does not expect progress after the failures of the last five years is provocative, especially given its responsibilities. But who will tell it in the political debate?

[This article was printed in Kathimerini's Sunday edition and was translated from its Greek original]

TAGS
Cyprus  |  Turkey  |  Greece

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