By Annie Charalambous
Hopes for a settlement in the Cyprus problem are hanging by a thread after Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on Thursday walked out of the UN-sponsored talks “without reason or excuse.”
But after UN envoy Espen Barth Eide held separate meetings with the two leaders to calm the waters, the fragile reunification process seems to still be on track – for now.
“Both leaders have told me they are committed to the process, the process is on,” Eide said after an hour-long meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades.
The envoy also clarified that it was Akinci who left the morning meeting abruptly – a demand set by Anastasiades who had been accused by the Turkish Cypriot leader of having first left the room.
“The meeting ended abruptly, unfortunately…As Mr Akinci himself said, at one point he decided to leave the meeting…it was an emotional meeting, difficult for all participants,” Eide said.
Earlier yesterday, Anastasiades held a live TV press conference at the Presidential Palace shortly after the unexpected development.
He said: “During a brief interruption, due to a disagreement between the UN and our side, the Turkish delegation left without reason or excuse.”
UN officials had tried to convince the Turkish Cypriots to return but Akinci was uncompromising, he added.
“My impression is that this (development) was a decision taken in advance so as to justify the position sustained by the Turkish Cypriot side,” the President said.
The two leaders met yesterday with the mood having recently been soured by a move by MPs to vote through a bill amendment to commemorate a 1950 referendum on Enosis – union with Greece.
Akinci had made clear that he would raise the matter during the meeting demanding a retraction.
Anastasiades made clear before the interruption he had discussed in detail the reasons why the Turkish Cypriot side’s concerns over the parliament’s decision were unjustified.
The President also spoke about the National Council’s unanimous decision on Monday reiterating that the solution being sought was neither enosis nor partition but one based on UN resolutions.
“It is inconceivable for anyone to question the Greek Cypriot side’s will to reach a solution for a bizonal, bicommunal federation after some 37 years of dialogue,” Anastasiades said.
The President also talked about events in the north, like the Turkish invasion celebrations on July 20 that deeply offend Greek Cypriots.
Or the provocatively gigantic Turkish flag painted on occupied Pendadaktylos mountain that also gets lit-up at night.
At the same time, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said last night that the Greek Cypriot side was constantly running away from the table.
And that the parliament’s decision was “unacceptable” for Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.
On January 12, a UN-hosted Conference on Cyprus took place in Geneva with the participation of the divided island’s three guarantors – Greece, Turkey and Britain – focusing on security and guarantees.
It did not really yield substantial results but a second such high-profile conference was – up until yesterday – expected to take place in mid-March.
Greece and Britain are keen to give up this anarchistic role in a reunited EU-member Cyprus, but Turkey still insists on a right of intervention.