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Dark Room: Cyprus talks turning into political comedy

THAT SINKING FEELING: Motorists in the centre of Nicosia had a lucky escape this week, when a section of the tarmac on the intersection gave way during midday traffic. Some questions need to be asked by the Department of Public Works. The pothole (or more like a sinkhole) had only recently been repaired before it collapsed again.

Impossible  relationship

I have said it before. Had it not been for its impact on the future of the island, then what is happening in the Cyprus talks would be nothing short of a political comedy.

The leaders, Nicos Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci, have been meeting and talking for the last two years. And still they can’t agree on the methodology of the negotiations.

Everybody agrees that few important issues have been left to converge upon and everybody agrees that there should be a conference abroad with the guarantors present.

But Anastasiades wants to tackle differences on each Cyprob chapter separately and Akinci wants all issues on the table. They spent five hours talking last Wednesday and couldn’t find a way to overcome this. I am writing this piece just as UN envoy Espen Barth Eide is undergoing his shuttle diplomacy in the north and south in the hope of producing breakthrough or, at least, some progress that will allow closure. I am not holding my breath, though, as the chemistry between the leaders, the trust, the communication are long gone.


Nicos Anastasiades has managed to confuse local and international Cyprob actors. They try in vain to grasp why the President lashed out against the UN Secretary General special adviser, at a time when Antonio Guterres had, very publicly, offered full backing to Espen Barth Eide.

The UNSG, through his spokesman, was responding to a letter by Greek Foreign Minister, Nicos Kotzias, who argued that Eide was consistently lobbying for Turkey, undermining Greek Cypriot and Greek positions on Cyprob. Guterres ignored Kotzias and, through his spokesman, told hacks that Eide is doing a great job in Cyprus and has his full confidence.

Anastasiades publicly claimed that Kotzias had consulted with him before sending the letter to UNSG. Privately though, he was furious, saying there was no consultation at any stage before Kotzias’ letter was delivered to UN headquarters in New York.

Instead of letting things pass, avoiding further embarrassment, Anastasiades chose to publicly bad-mouth Eide. He said the special adviser justified, with his actions, Turkey’s threats over exploratory drilling next July in Cyprus’ EEZ. Guterres for the second time backed Eide, clearly indicating he didn’t take Anastasiades remarks seriously.

Apparently, people couldn’t understand why the President, under the circumstances, went after the adviser, putting his credibility on the line. Evidently, foreigners can’t understand Cypriot politics. Anastasiades has already started campaigning for re-election.  As a result, he couldn’t care less about perceptions abroad, so long as he can appear bullish to Greek Cypriot voters.

Disgruntled hawk

The Turkish envoy in the northern part of Cyprus, Derya Kanbay, frequently complains to his close circle that he has been distanced from the negotiations process.

My sources in the north tell me that the envoy, who is a known right-wing anti-solution hawk, is under strict orders from the Turkish foreign ministry to keep away from Akinci’s team and the negotiations process and not to make any statements.

He is telling his confidants that he is particularly upset because Ankara is letting Akinci lead the negotiations and is hardly interested in what is going on.

Becoming Turkey

People in Ankara are saying that all the talk about annexing the northern part of Cyprus to Turkey is due to some serious concerns about the system in the north. Ankara appears to believe that the system has failed, with the Turkish Cypriots not being able to manage anything properly.

Turkish officials believe that the system is corrupt, collapsing and wasting money. The millions sent to Turkish Cypriots are evaporating without any visible improvement on any field, they have say.

The practical solution they come up with is transferring to Turkey the control of any organisation, from health to education to local authorities. They seem convinced that it is the only way to improve things with minimal cost and much less hassle.

Ups & Downs


George Pamboridis

The Health Minister has managed to elevate himself as a top member of Anastasiades’ cabinet. He took on the mission impossible to establish the NHS in Cyprus and, despite pessimistic predictions, he’s very close to achieving his goal.

Andros Kyprianou

AKEL’s chief has been instrumental in keeping the leftist party on the right track supporting efforts to reach a settlement. With his consistent stance, Kyprianou has been praised by even right-wing voters who want to see Cyprob solved.

Mavroyiannis, Nami

The negotiators have tried to overcome the deadlock in Cyprus talks and increase the chances of a successful outcome through hard work and bridging proposals. Unfortunately the leaders don’t seem willing to follow their path.


North Coalition

The National Unity Party (UBP) -Democratic Party (DP) coalition in the north has been trying its best to prevent a settlement. Their latest shenanigans involve blocking a stress test to assess the banking sector’s level of compliance with EU rules.

Christos Michaelides

Chairman and the leadership of Cyprus’ Employers’ and Industrialists’ Federation (OEB) refused to accept the bills and current plan by the Health Ministry to establish a National Health System. They were the odd ones out.

Chrysostomos II

The Archbishop of Cyprus was in the limelight again, calling for a new (intransigent) strategy on Cyprob. But his best offering in public dialogue was his stated aim to set up a Church bank. He just can’t hide his business acumen.

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