Deal must be made by Anastasiades and Akinci

DESPITE the best efforts of the anti-settlement parties to sow doubts about the prospects of the talks that resume on Friday, the two leaders seem genuinely optimistic. The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative Espen Barth Eide has also been making many positive sounds but that is his job and the optimism of mediators has always been viewed with a big dose of cynicism. However, when it is expressed by the leaders of the two sides it is guaranteed to create a positive climate.

It is early days yet, but Monday night’s half hour meeting between President Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci, followed by dinner hosted by Barth Eide, went extremely well. There was a positive vibe when the two smiling leaders came out for the photographs, indicating they were both happy with what had been agreed at the pre-dinner meeting. Opposition party leaders and their spokespersons tried to dampen the enthusiasm yesterday with their trademark negativity but they sounded out of tune with the upbeat mood. However the upbeat mood could only be sustained by progress in the negotiations. That the two leaders would be personally conducting the negotiations and meeting on a regular basis is a departure from what had been happening so far. There had been less involvement by the two leaders who left their negotiators to do their work for them, an indication that they did not have great faith in the procedure and were content to leave their representatives to bicker over procedure and details. Now, Akinci and Anastasiades will call the tune.

 This is how it should have been from the start but it was difficult for Anastasiades and Dervis Eroglu to talk constructively, whereas with Akinci representing the Turkish Cypriots it is a different ball game. It is now down to the two leaders and Anastasiades should give up his oft-repeated demand for the involvement of the EU and all five permanent members of the UN Security Council. The Security Council is represented by Barth Eide while the EU has made it clear on countless occasions that it supports the UN-sponsored peace process. If some assistance is required on a specific issue that is difficult to resolve, help could be sought but it is naive to think any country or the EU would want to be actively involved.

Anastasiades and Akinci should come to terms with the fact that the success of the talks rests with them not with the EU or the permanent members of the Security Council. Only they can reach a deal and sell it to the people. It is a very big responsibility but we hope they would seize the opportunity to make the country whole again