President Nicos Anastasiades has launched a stinging attack against Espen Barth Eide saying ‘the less the UN Special Envoy to Cyprus speaks about the talks, the better’.
He went on to accuse Eide of adopting a position of one side and not both following his recent interview to reporters about the prospects in the peace talks.
Speaking at a charity event in Nicosia on Sunday, Anastasiades went on to say that the Norwegian diplomat needs to understand that “with these statements or such an intimidation, we achieve the opposite results” before adding that it had always been agreed that the talks were “a Cypriot-owned dialogue and that the agreement was not to have arbitration or timetables”.
He added: “The less said on this matter, particularly from Mr Eide, the better”.
Last week, Eide said that the UN may be willing to offer alternative proposals on the Cyprus talks if a settlement isn’t reached. He also urged for a speedy conclusion to the talks given the current instability in the region with regards to the offshore drilling agreements and the threats from Turkey.
His comments have seemingly done little to impress Anastasiades who was also unhappy about comments made connecting the talks with next year’s presidential elections in Cyprus.
“He should have learned from his predecessors – who had caused significant problems in one or the other community – that particular care is required. The Cyprus problem is a delicate matter.”
“Mr Eide is not paying attention to the threats against the Republic of Cyprus and the climate of mistrust that is caused by the various navtex [issued by Turkey], and the presence of ‘Barbaros’ [Turkish exploration vessel accused by Cyprus of violating its waters].”
Anastasiades went on to say that he had not walked away from settlement talks “even when there was a real threat against the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of his government.
When asked to respond to Eide’s comments about the presidential elections in 2018, Anastasiades that the elections was not something that concerned him before saying that there was another election coming up in September “in Norway”.
“I do not want to enter into a war of words with the special adviser. But he must be more careful when choosing his words because they cause mistrust or it appears like he is adopting the position of one side to the detriment of the other side”.
“The UN Secretary General needs to know that the negotiations are being conducted under threats. This is unthinkable and a violation of international law. The special advisor needs to be preoccupied with this issue and not setting a new date for an international conference.”
He added: “He is in a hurry, as he was in the past. And I had warned him that this will only bring about disappointment among Greek Cypriots.”
Talks between Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci have still to make a significant breakthrough to end the dispute despite hopes from the UN and the international community that a settlement could finally be reached after the ‘Conference On Cyprus’ in Geneva earlier this year.
Anastasiades and Akinci have resumed negotiations following a frosty spell in relations between the two sides and will meet again on May 11 and then on May 17.
The talks were in danger of coming to a crashing halt following a series of incidents which angered each side since the start of the year.
These included a controversial bill to commemorate Enosis in schools, a move to block Greek Orthodox Church mass in the north during Easter to take place while Anastasiades’ government and Turkey are currently at loggerheads over gas exploration and drilling rights off Cyprus’ shores.