Anastasiades tragicomedy

Anastasiades tragicomedy

Did you hear about it? Probably not. Talking about the Oct. 1 anniversary celebrations of the republic, Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades announced that the Cypriot Republic had completed its lifespan… Vow! Recalling that the establishment of the Cypriot Republic used to be considered by Greek Cypriots as a “painful compromise,” Anastasiades said the time had come for everyone to understand that transforming the republic into a federation embracing Greek and Turkish Cypriots had become a “national need.” 

That’s it… A “national need” to make a new “painful compromise.” If Greek Cypriots are willing to walk that road, why not? The 1960 Cypriot Republic was a still born baby because from the day one the Greek Cypriots were against its effective federal governance model, kicking out Turkish Cypriots from the partnership state in less than three years and creating the Cyprus problem. Now, just to fool the world, Anastasiades started talking of making another “difficult compromise” and “transforming” the republic into a federation - that is, into a new partnership state again. Was he sincere? That’s another problem. Anastasiades is the leader of a party that is considered to be the continuation of the notorious EOKA gang. However, it was he and his party alone among Greek Cypriots who managed to say “yes” to the last U.N. settlement plan in 2004. Can he be trusted now? Why not? After all, don’t we all believe it is easier for hardline leaders to bring peace or difficult compromises?

But Anastasiades has been flip flopping all the way. He said “yes” to the Annan plan in 2004. He also pledged behind closed doors to many international dignitaries that while he was against a rotating presidency or cross voting he could still agree to a confederacy resolution of the Cyprus problem. Yet, it was also he who signed a protocol with a web of ultranationalist anti-settlement parties, virtually ruling out any compromise in the talks. Furthermore, the Cyprus problem could not even be his priority in the first six months in office. He was so obsessed with the status of “president” of a republic that he said has completed its lifespan that he refused even to attend a New York social event also participated in by the Turkish Cypriot leader, claiming that he would not agree to the elevation of the Turkish Cypriot leader to his “level.”

Painful compromise must start with a change in the mental setup of the Greek Cypriot side. The transformation of one into something new or the establishment of a totally new partnership state will be the end product of the process. We need now goodwill and a settlement resolve backed up with a strong political will to reconcile. It’s no secret that whatever good a settlement might achieve, it would still be painful, at least for a section of the population on both sides. That’s just unavoidable. There will be very bitter compromises. This painful road, however, must be walked with determination to create a new and promising future for all Cypriots, not because of the “national need” of Greek Cypriots only. 

Even if he cannot publicly admit it, Anastasiades knows well the responsibility of his people in creating the Cyprus problem. Sure, Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu must be equally aware of the wrongdoings of his people, as he represents whatever is left of the Turkish resistance movement. If they wanted to, these two leaders could work out a deal. Anastasiades, however, could not even come forth for a social dinner, let alone sit down for comprehensive talks. Is it not odd that the two sides are now struggling to overcome deep disagreements over what to say to the media after a probable first official negotiation session?