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Witty Christofias July 12, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Egypt, KKTC.
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It appears that the limits of bargaining skills of Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias were as much underestimated as his trustworthiness was exaggerated during the Annan Plan period.

“I am disappointed… I was fooled,” said then European Union’s Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verhaugen as well as many other clever European politicians seeing that over 75 percent of Greek Cypriots voted to kill the UN peace plan, or the Annan Plan. Whereas, they were sure of the pro-settlement commitment of the Greek Cypriot people and were so confident of the strong political will of Christofias – the most important political force behind the then Greek Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos. A Greek Cypriot “Yes” vote in the referendum was certain, while the Turkish Cypriots needed to be convinced to support “settlement now, EU accession tomorrow.” In any case, the EU membership aspirations of the pro-settlement Greek Cypriot people should not be allowed to be held hostage to the intransigence of the Turkish Cypriot side and “with or without a settlement the island must be admitted into the EU.”

Verhaugen and other European bureaucrats and politicians were “fooled” at the time by many Greek Cypriots, particularly by Christofias. Up until a week before the April 24, 2004 vote on the Annan Plan Christofias was supportive of the compromise deal, but all of a sudden he came up with “In order to deliver a strong yes a while later, we have decided to say no.” Such a grandiose U-turn by witty Christofias made many people feel “we were fooled.” That the “a while later” Christofias referred to never came and the Annan Plan since then has been considered by the Greek Cypriot side as “dead and buried” but somehow still alive with the limits it provided to the Turkish Cypriot demands.

Christofias is now proposing Eroğlu that Turkish Cypriots should agree to hand over sufficient territory to resettle 100,000 of the total 165,000 Greek Cypriots who migrated from north to south in 1974. That is not only Güzelyurt or Morphou and some areas in the Famagusta area, but also almost the entire Karpas Peninsula, the former Nicosia International Airport region including the Trikomo village as well as tens of villages along the border from east to west is demanded to be given to Greek Cypriots. Plus, tens of thousands of Greek Cypriots should be allowed to return and live in the remaining Turkish Cypriot areas. More? Northern Cyprus has a population of around 265,000. Of these 265,000 citizens, around 100,000 are mainland settlers. Christofias is now saying that he would accept a maximum of 50,000 of those settlers and for the rest he is prepared to “pay and send back to Turkey.”

How can Christofias see the right in himself to ask Turkish Cypriots to go further in such painful areas despite the fact that even the Annan Plan ceilings were too high to accept but just for the sake of a settlement Turkish Cypriots felt obliged to accept to demonstrate their pro-settlement resolve. With such odd demands, of course, these talks cannot go anywhere but to failure.

Indecent offer

During a recent encounter in Brussels with Turkish minister in charge of EU affairs, Egemen Bağış Christofias disclosed that he made an important and generous offer to Turkey. According to the offer if Turkey agreed to return the Varosha suburb of Famagusta to the Greek Cypriot side his administration would agree to opening of accession talks in some of the chapters his government has been holding hostage. Christofias is of course a very clever salesman. He would not sell everything in one go. He would not lift the Greek Cypriot veto on the entire set of chapters it has been holding hostage. He has stressed that “The Cyprus issue will always be a handicap in Turkey’s EU process” as long as the Cyprus problem was not resolved. According to Christofias Turkey will take a step and Christofias will lift the veto on one or more chapter. In a while Turkey will do something else and Christofias will generously lift some other sanctions.

Give and take is the essence of diplomacy, but poor Christofias is so witty that he is unaware of the fact that Turkey can neither compromise from Cyprus, nor from its EU bid and many wise persons in Turkey and in Europe are aware that it is in the best interest of both Turkey and the EU not to force Ankara to make a choice between the Cyprus issue and Turkey’s EU membership.

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