Last Monday foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides said on Plus TV that any more Turkish moves aimed at opening the fenced area of Varosha would affect any efforts to find a settlement. Anyone hearing him would wonder what efforts was he exactly talking about? No efforts were being made by anyone, not even by the UN, which appears to have concluded, that any effort would be a waste of its time.
Christodoulides said: “If they (Turkish side) move with more faits accompli in the fenced area of Varosha, the chapter of territory is gone. What would we talk about at the negotiating table?” On Wednesday there was another fait accompli, the Turkish Cypriots were clearing part of the area they had demilitarized, removing barrels so that Anexartisias Avenue could be reopened.
Perhaps this was not a new fait accompli – no new part of Varosha had been opened – because a day later, on Thursday, Christodoulides said “yesterday’s developments in the occupied areas will not in any way affect the prospect of resuming the talks.” But what would the two sides talk about at the negotiating table with the chapter of territory gone?
“What is needed is political will to resume the talks based on an agreed framework,” said Christodoulides, who seems to have lost touch with reality. There can be no agreed framework given the positions of the two sides, as for the “political will to resume talks,” even if it existed the probability it would lead to an agreement is extremely low.
There was conference on Cyprus in 2017, and talks were based on an agreed framework, but there was still a collapse. President Anastasiades wants talks to resume from where they left off back then, but he walked out at the time, blaming Turkish intransigence. He does not even accept the Guterres framework, on which he wants talks based, in its entirety.
Then again, as Christodoulides said, the objective was the resumption of the talks, not a settlement. Of course, before that happens, we have another priority – the appointment by the UNSG of a special envoy. The foreign minister conceded that this appointment would not solve any substantive problem, but it would signal the start of a new effort through the envoy’s contacts with the two sides, in the hope that prospects for the resumption of talks would be created.
“Everyone understands what a negative fact not having talks is, as the status quo in Cyprus is not static,” said Christodoulides. But was having talks for 40-plus years that led nowhere a positive fact? We will hear many more contradictory and nonsensical statements from the government, the priority of which now is to persuade people that it had no responsibility for leading the Cyprus problem to the point of no return.