Greek Cypriot Leader Nikos Anastasiades withdrew a promise to Greek Cypriot party leaders to give them access to negotiation documents just hours after pledging to do so, following the leak of a paper he gave to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Davos last month outlining the Greek Cypriot position on the talks.
The document was distributed to the Greek Cypriot party leaders after they complained for the umpteenth time that Anastasiades was keeping them in the dark about the talks. During the meeting, Anastasiades said he was ready to circulate documents on the negotiations to them ahead of a closed-doors briefing of the Greek Cypriot Parliament on February 11, on condition they would not leak the information. They promised they would not.
They were not given these papers but were in the meantime allowed to have a copy of the document handed to Ban in Davos, clearly outlining the Greek Cypriot position. Within just a few hours the document had been leaked to the Greek Cypriot Sigmalive.
The disclosure was followed shortly afterwards by a written statement from the Greek Cypriot Administration Spokesman Nicos Christoudoulides expressing “deep disappointment” at the fact that “only a few hours after the completion of the Greek Cypriot National Council and while there had been discussion and specific recommendations, and all participants even condemned the leakage of documents, the one given to them by Anastasiades was leaked online,” he said.
“It is very regrettable once again to see such weakness when it comes to confidentiality and respect for the principles of confidentiality,” he added. Christodoulides also said such actions affected not only the credibility of the Greek Cypriot side but its negotiating power at the table.
Following the breach, the Greek Cypriot Spokesman said: “Anastasiades is obliged to re-examine his decision to provide documents to the Greek Cypriot National Council and instead to continue the current practice whereby members of the National Council can proceed to the place and study the relevant documents on the spot”. When they do that, they are not allowed to take photos or notes.
In the leaked document given to Ban, Anastasiades lays out the current state of play as regards the talks, and what he believes is necessary for a successful outcome and implementation of a settlement.
He asks for more time to reach and prepare for a solution, but still hopes to agree on a settlement in 2016
“My references aim at demonstrating that we need time,” he says in the document. “We should be well-prepared and present to the people a clear plan with no deficiencies, gaps and ambiguities that will jeopardise its implementation. Otherwise we risk the possibility of not achieving a positive outcome in the referenda to be held.”
He tells Ban that there is a common understanding with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on issues related to the chapters of governance and power sharing, property and EU but at the same time “it should be noted that despite progress there are still remaining differences in all chapters”.
“I believe that despite our wish for the opposite, we should not present a picture that does not reflect the reality and we should avoid creating expectations that the settlement is within immediate reach,” Anastasiades added.
In this respect, he said, any reference that all of the issues he outlined should be discussed at a final meeting with Ban “do not find us in agreement”, particularly “if you take into account the experiences of 2004 with the well-known results”. Anastasiades was referring to the Annan plan in 2004, which was not finalised until all parties – Greek and Turkish Cypriots, Greeks, Turks, the British and the UN – got together at Burgenstock in Switzerland to thrash out the final aspects with the UN intervention. The current process is to be ‘Cypriot-owned’.
And even on those issues where there is a common understanding, he said the complexities associated with their implementation “demands time and careful planning” so not to affect the viability of the solution.
He gave as examples the costs of a settlement, cost of property compensation and those associated with the functioning of the federal state and setting up the various federal organisations and institutions.
He cited issues related to the creation of a fund, including donations through an international donors’ conference, guaranteeing the loans to be undertaken and the means and ways of paying the loans.
Referring to the IMF and the World Bank, which are to provide the necessary expertise, Anastasiades said this would also take time to do accurately. It was vital to ensure the economic viability of the solution before it was presented to the people, he added. Other issues that needed time included territorial adjustments, including the prompt return of Varosha and the buffer zone to the Greek Cypriots. The list of international agreements which bind the United Cyprus, i.e. guarantees, also needed resolving.
On security, Anastasiades said it was “crucial that on Day 1 there is a withdrawal of a significant number of Turkish troops. This will resonate with the population like few aspects of the settlement will,” he said
“Therefore it is obvious for the immediate implementation of the above on Day 1, thorough preparation and considerable work that will last some months is needed, even before the referenda.”
There would also be benefits for the Turkish Cypriots from Day 1, he said citing participation in the government and the opening of ports and airports in the North.