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So, which Guterres Framework? – Who cares?

Μαΐου 4, 2018
I am still not quite sure why Mustafa Akinci(MA) made his move about the Guterres Framework (GF).
My worry is not about his intentions, which I still regard as honest and realistic, but about the timing.
Obviously, moving forward at a time of the pre-election period in Turkey, risks immediate opposition by Erdogan and his government. When spirits run high, it is easy to interpret his move as far too conciliatory. In fact, we have already seen reports in Turkey and the north, calling MA  “a traitor selling Cyprus to the Greeks”.
One possibility is that exactly because of the election period, MA was briefed that Turkey is planning something of a provocation in the Cypriot EEZ, and he made his move in desperation, trying to avoid a new crisis which could and can escalate beyond control, to the detriment of all of us on the island.
Another possibility is that, following the visit of the Turkish Foreign Minister to the north, he confirmed that as usual, Turkey means what she says, and that they are really considering plans B, away from the agreed BBF.
In any case it is difficult not to interpret his move as a last-ditch effort, as a desperate attempt to get the talks back on track again, before disaster hits us.
What followed his initiative, was a typical Cypriot mess and things are now clear as mud.
Nicos Anastasiades(NA) was enjoying the Egyptian hospitality at the time of the announcement by MA, it took him a couple of days to respond, and when he did, it was a response in typical Tassos Papadopoulos style. It was a sulking yes, in very bad mood, raising many preconditions, and most importantly: he was referring to another version of the GF.
And then, all hell broke loose. The last couple of days looked like we are all warming up for a war, or a new major disaster, rather than trying to find ways to resume the talks and avoid the one or the other.
I am sure that both MA and NA know what the GF is. And I’m sure that both know that if they get back to the negotiation table, they will have very few chances to avoid reaching a deal. Furthermore, I am sure they know that either version of the GF will have to be confirmed by the Secretary General of the UN himself, so, once again there is not much space for games or delaying tactics.
That may explain why each of the two leaders is behaving in his own way, but I will refrain at this point from saying who is really positive and ready to reach a deal and who is not.
Under the circumstances, I think it would be also unwise for the UN to try and clear the stage at this point. The two sides have apparently accepted the appointment of a new UN “temporary” envoy, the American optimist Ms Jane Holl Lute. I think we must all keep low, wait for her to come over and trust her diplomatic skills – also hoping that she has the ability to twist an arm or two. Trying to clear the dust at this point will inevitably lead to a win – lose situation, and that will certainly mean a breakdown of the new talks even before they start. And, that is exactly what the naïve supporters of the status quo prefer, oblivious to the looming disasters.
It would be better to take as given the -minimum – “yes” to the GF of the two leaders and try to set up a new process. A new process under (whichever) GF will be of a limited scope and naturally under a short time frame.
And, if we ever reach that point (pending Turkey’s stand), and the two leaders go back to the negotiating table, we will see or in fact, reconfirm who is serious and who has other priorities.
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