It was a big surprise for those following the issue on Cyprus last month when Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı declared out of the blue his acceptance of the “Guterres document” as a “strategic framework” for a Cyprus deal and asked the Greek Cypriot side to walk the same road.
Which Guterres document? That was problematic as there was no such written document. Espen Berth Eide, the former special envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “read” the “notes” he took while talking with the secretary-general at the June 30, 2016 session of the Crans-Montana five party conference. Four days later, the Greek Cypriot side produced a second document, abridged and elaborated to suit their views. The second document was also on what Eide presented to negotiators as “views” of the secretary-general.
There are radical differences between the two “documents.” For example, while the earlier one stresses that the guarantee system cannot continue as it is and must be supplemented with a new system satisfying the security concerns of both Cyprus communities, the second text altered by Greek Cyprus simply underlined that the system of guarantee cannot continue in Cyprus under the current conditions.
Thus, what Akıncı suggested—without consulting his government, political parties, obtaining authorization from parliament or asking Ankara’s opinion as the security aspect of the Cyprus issue directly concerned Turkey as well—did not find customers in the Greek Cypriot side. Instead, Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiades asked Akıncı to declare his acceptance of the “Guterres document” that Greek Cypriots changed on July 4.
What did Akıncı want to achieve by accepting the “Guterres document” as a “strategic framework” for a Cyprus deal? Did he not know that the Greek Cypriot side rejected the June 30 non-paper the moment Eide read it aloud? Was he not aware that Anastasiades wanted the July 4 text his aides developed based on the ideas of Guterres to serve the “zero soldiers, zero guarantees” hardline position he has been pursuing? Akıncı was obviously trying to divide the socialists at home and make the best use of those divisions up until now, managing to surf his way onto the office of Nicosia’s Turkish mayor office, several ministerial portfolios and most lately in 2015 to the presidential office.
Akıncı failed this time. He assumed Ankara would not say anything that might create a perception that there was discord between him and Turkish leaders. On the contrary, from the very first moment Akıncı made that statement, Turkey made it clear through many channels that the proposal only did not reflect its position. Furthermore, Ankara implied that the issue was not at all raised at Turkish-Turkish Cypriot talks and thus, Akıncı making such a statement was not compatible with the gentlemen’s understanding between the two capitals.
The cold breeze from Anatolia was shocking for Akıncı, but the worst came from the socialist prime minister, Tufan Erhürman, who said to Akıncı’s face at a meeting of the party leaders and the president, that if the aim of a tactical move by Akıncı was to divide the socialist Republican Turkish Party (CTP), it was amateurish and would not happen this time.
It was claimed that without Greek Cypriots embracing his move, and both Ankara and the political parties shunning him of acting apolitically, the Turkish Cypriot leader even considered stepping down, while he most likely made that proposal in the first place to consolidate his prospective reelection bid.
For some incomprehensible reason so far, Akıncı has been unable to comprehend that the Greek Cypriot side has never been interested in a Cyprus deal based on compromise, political equality and bi-zonality and bi-communality principles. Greek Cypriots just want to show world talks were resuming and thus, there is a move towards reinstituting normalcy on Cyprus. Why? Because it wants to continue hydrocarbon collaboration. The Israeli, Greek and Greek Cypriot summit and the decision to continue the East-Med project was a good example of such efforts.
Very much like the 2004 accession, despite Greek Cypriots shunning a U.N.-brokered peace plan by funding an Israel-Cyprus-Crete-Greece pipeline, the EU might further condemn all prospects of a Cyprus deal by consolidating Greek Cypriot adamancy.