Who really is the most intransigent in the Cyprus negotiations?

A unique and refreshing article written by Loucas Charalambous regarding the proposals put forward by both sides in the latest round of Cyprus negotiations and the continuing ‘blame game’ was published by ‘Cyprus Mail’ last week as follows:

“Forty years after the Turkish invasion we are still organising events and gatherings to hear the same idiotic rhetoric, the same slogans and the same ‘patriotic’ nonsense about the ‘anti-occupation struggle’ we are supposedly waging.

The only comment we do not hear is the self-evident and blatantly obvious – 40 years later the last thing we are interested in is solving our problem. The only concern is how everyone will hold on to his ‘chair’.

Forty years since 1974 – and 50 since 1964 – the official mythology uses even the same words and phrases. We are blameless and have no responsibility for anything that has happened. Others are to blame for everything. And for the perpetuation of the problem there has always been one guilty party – Turkish intransigence.

I read the document of the ‘comparative presentation’ of the talks proposals that President Anastasiades gave to the party leaders. I have to admit that any rational person reading through it could reach only one conclusion – Greek ‘intransigence’ is greater than Turkey’s. We only have to look at some examples.

The first and worst, which I mentioned in a previous column, was our astonishing proposal that the Turkish Cypriot vice-president of the federal state would be elected by both communities and by absolute majority. In other words the Greek Cypriots would choose who would represent the Turkish Cypriots.

In the document’s introduction the Turkish Cypriot side is accused of refusing to submit proposals and it is stressed that “the proposals submitted must be comprehensive and substantive and not constitute a mockery of the procedure.”

But our proposal is the most blatant mockery of the procedure. When, 50 years after the breakdown of the Republic and with a Turkish occupation force in Cyprus, Anastasiades is seeking to deprive the Turkish Cypriots of a right they had in the 1960 state, it is not just a mockery of the procedure but a conscious attempt to kill off any prospect of a settlement.

Another absurd proposal was the one about the composition of the federal government for which we proposed 10 ministries and six sub-ministries. To be fair, the Turkish Cypriot proposal is no less absurd as it talks about 15 ministries. It should be noted that the responsibilities of the federal government, on which both sides agree, would be four – foreign relations, economy, justice and vital services such as telecommunications, postal services etc.

It was no accident that the Annan plan envisaged just six members for the presidential council that would have these responsibilities. Could Anastasiades explain on what logic he based this foolish proposal?

In the same document, the Turkish Cypriot side was criticised for its position that the issue of territory had to be discussed when all other aspects had been agreed because “it is a matter that would upset the population.” But this is a reasonable position. Everyone understands what rows there would be if maps containing areas that would be returned were published.

There would be bickering, protests by demonstrators in the north by those who would have to move out and the same in the south by those whose villages would not be returned.

Another point for which the Turkish Cypriot side was criticised in the document was that through its proposal for citizenship the number of settlers staying on would be higher. This, of course, is the inevitable result of the rejection of a settlement 10 years ago. Anastasiades was not responsible for this. It is those who rejected the plan back then (our negotiator Andreas Mavroyiannis was among them) that should feel guilt over this development.

Forty years later, we are continuing with the same thinking, the same demagoguery and the same slogans which caused all our problems and will ensure that worse is yet to come.”

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