“New” and old ideas on the Cyprus problem
Article by Eleni Mavrou, AKEL Political Bureau member
19 March 2023, “Haravgi” newspaper
Nikos Christodoulides with his first statements on the Cyprus problem seems to have chosen a key axis for “breaking the deadlock and solving the Cyprus problem” – the catalytic involvement of the EU.
The President is right, of course, to call for more active EU involvement. Although the EU has always been there – in the way it itself perceives it. It was present at the Mont Peleran talks and participated at the highest level in 2017, both at the Geneva Summit and at Crans Montana.
We are still waiting to hear “clearly” from the President how he perceives the EU’s “catalytic role” in the efforts to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem because some of his statements leave the impression that he sees the EU as being a substitute for the role of the United Nations – even though the EU itself is neither able, nor indeed willing to take on this responsibility. The European Council’s own conclusions clearly state that the Union’s role is that of an observer in support of the negotiations taking place under the auspices of the UN.
However questions (and concerns) have been raised currently by another statement made by N. Christodoulides. On 13 March, in a statement at the official seat and residence of the Prime Minister of Greece, following his meeting with Kyriakos Mitsotakis, N. Christodoulides said that “we have agreed to establish an institutionalised instrument of intergovernmental cooperation, which will provide for joint meetings of the Council of Ministers in the presence of both of us, at regular intervals”.
The day after the President’s statements, and under pressure from the reactions, primarily by AKEL, government spokesman K. Letybiotis stated that “these are not joint meetings of the entire Council of Ministers, but occasional meetings between Ministers of the two countries who have the same subject matter to discuss issues of common interest”. This, however, is quite another matter. Meetings between Cypriot and Greek ministers on matters within their respective areas of competence is something that has been common practice for a long time. There was, for that precise reason, no need for any particular reference by the President of the Republic.
And on this issue we await to hear a “clear” position from the President as to what he meant.
What we have not yet heard from the President of the Republic is how he intends to address the deficit in credibility left to him by the previous President of the Republic because, as much as certain forces and circles do not want to admit it, both the UN and the international community in general and the EU are waiting to see whether he has the political will for a solution to the Cyprus problem so that a new procedure, which is difficult to start anyway, will have a chance of success.
And this is what it must do so now, now that exploratory contacts and meetings have begun.
Can the President of the Republic, for example, convince [the international community] that he is ready for a resumption of the talks on the basis of the Guterres Framework, from the point where they were interrupted in 2017at Crans Montana, preserving the negotiating acquis body of work that has been agreed upon after years of efforts and talks?
The elections are over. Now is the time for concrete answers, not generalisations.