Solely silence is bad

Solely silence is bad

The cross meetings last Thursday (Feb. 27) between the representatives of the two antagonists of Cyprus in Ankara and Athens produced its first concrete result: the Greek Cypriot government faltered.

Was it really so? Was there a strong, healthy government in southern Cyprus that collapsed because of differences between coalition partners over the cross meetings?

Nicolas Papadopoulos and his Democratic Party (Diko) were not willing to be a part of the latest exercise in Cyprus right from the very start. In the way of Diko’s threats to abandon the coalition with Democratic Rally Party (Disi) was one of Nikos Anastasiades’ excuses in postponing the resumption of the Cyprus talk’s process for almost a year after his election. Thus, it was no news that Papadopoulos withdrew from the Greek Cypriot coalition government, as everyone was wondering when he would do that. The cross visits probably accelerated his departure and opened a more promising period. Yes, a promising period has started in Cyprus. Anastasiades has asked the resigned cabinet to serve until March 15 when he will name a new government. He has been in contact with Andros Kyprianou, the leader of the socialist Progressive Party of Working People (Akel), for some time, anyhow. A Disi-Akel coalition will, of course, be far better and strengthen the belief that a Cyprus deal might indeed be within reach. With such a “national coalition” representing over 65 percent of the electorate and has 39 seats in the 59-seat House of Representatives, the Greek Cypriot side might be able to embrace a bitter compromise deal. The talk in Cyprus, however, is Anastasiades will form a minority government with Akel’s outside support.

Greek Cypriots are very vociferous over the cross meetings, many people are complaining and some are even talking about “treason.” In the northern Turkish Cypriot part, prominent conservative figures, such as former Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu, are busy trying to convince Turkish Cypriots prospects of a resolution might not be as strong as Negotiator Kudret Özersay and the leftist Foreign Minister Özdil Nami have been trying to portray.

Indeed, neither Özersay nor Nami have been so upbeat about the prospect of a quick deal apart stressing that since everything related to the Cyprus problem was discussed many times and the two sides know well each other’s positions, if they have political will for a painful compromise, a Cyprus accord may come within weeks, if not months. If the psychological barrier or the two sides’ phobias might be breached through cross meetings – Özersay told this writer further rounds were possible and the two negotiators might visit London together, or separately as well – it might be indeed possible to make a deal and submit it to simultaneous referenda this June.

Right, Özersay was wrong in expecting Greece to help lift the isolation of Turkish Cypriots or Greek Cypriot Negotiator Andreas Mavroyannis was wrong in demanding the return Varosha before a settlement, but this was just the first contact after almost 50 years. The last time a Turkish Cypriot official was in Athens was October 1959 – to build the Cyprus Republic – and the last time a Greek Cypriot was in Ankara was the visit of Archbishop Makarios in November 1962 to demand 13-point amendments in the power sharing chapter of the Constitution, thus to demolish the 1960 partnership state. Hopefully contacts now are aiming to rebuild a partnership state. Many people complain about the adverse voices, critical screams and, indeed, rhetoric bordering war mongering on both sides of the Cyprus Green Line. It’s so nice that we have them as they underline activity. What if we had