The euphoria of Mustafa Akinci’s win in the presidential elections may not last long. Despite quite a few Greek Cypriot politicians welcoming the moderate and solution-oriented Akinci, other politicians and commentators have been warning that we should not be carried away by the election of Mustafa Akinci and raise our expectations regarding the possibility of a breakthrough on the Cyprus problem, ‘Cyprus Mail’ comments.
Those Greek Cypriot politicians whose careers have been built on a hard-line attitude and total negativity towards the Cyprus negotiations still remain highly vocal.
Leader of the centrist Democratic Party (DIKO) Nicholas Papadopoulos commented that “whoever claims the Cyprus problem would be solved because the Turkish Cypriot negotiator has changed is simply absolving Turkey.” Citizen’s Alliance leader Giorgos Lillikas was a little more restrained, saying that “Akinci’s differentiation in phraseology from Eroglu and Ankara is welcome but it is not enough to open the way to a settlement.”
Papadopoulos and Lillikas want to dampen enthusiasm because they fear it could create a positive climate and give some momentum to the talks that will resume next month.
Although many are desperate for a solution, Akinci’s proposal for the return of Varosha in exchange for direct flights to the north have, so far, been politely rejected by the South’s government because it found the conditions unacceptable.
Another big question looming over the negotiations is Turkey. Akinci’s call for independence from Turkey prompted a harsh reaction from President Erdogan.
Cyprus Mail suggests that it may have been better if Akinci had exercised a little restraint and saved that topic for discussion behind closed doors.
The Financial Times published a commentary by Tony Barber who said that since Akinci’s election, events this week have never moved faster, however he adds that:
Less certain is the attitude of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of Turkey, which pours financial investments and subsidies into the island’s north, keeps sizeable military forces there and dislikes Mr Akinci’s suggestion that it is high time for relations between Ankara and the Turkish Cypriots to be more equal.
He concludes that Turkey could be one of the sources of friction in the talks rather than historical trust issues between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
He also quotes former UNSG Advisor on Cyprus, the embattled Alexander Downer who, warning against over-optimism said:
“It’s easy to sound in favour of a solution . . . You can train a parrot in a pet shop to say that.”
Cyprus Mail, Financial Times