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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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SOME 10 days ago, foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides raised expectations by announcing the possibility of a deal with Turkey for the opening of the fenced off area of Famagusta, for the return of its inhabitants. In exchange the Cyprus government would agree to the opening of Tymbou airport to direct flights. ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Telling voters what they want to hear will not lead to a solution ]

Telling voters what they want to hear will not lead to a solution

LISTENING to the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaderships over the past few weeks, an outsider could be forgiven for feeling confused as to the intentions of both sides.

On the one hand, we hear very positive talk about commitment to progress, about overcoming difficulties and seeking out compromise.

It sounds encouraging, a marked contrast to the way earlier efforts stumbled upon the slightest difference, where the most arcane detail would invariably bring forth a torrent of recriminations. The way in which complications over Ledra Street were ironed out, and the businesslike manner in which technical committees and working groups were established were concrete examples of this new approach, and have raised hopes that both sides really want the process to go somewhere this time.

On the other hand, public pronouncements from both Demetris Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat often seem deliberately calculated to raise the hackles of the other side.

Talat does not seem to miss an opportunity to insist that any settlement should be based on the Annan plan and that the new state should come about by ‘virgin birth’. He knows that both these concepts are anathema to the Greek Cypriots, that to utter them is like waving a red rag to the raging bull of those on the Greek Cypriot side convinced that nothing has changed since they escaped the dreaded clutches of the Annan plan in 2004.

Christofias of course will insist ad nauseam that the Annan plan is dead and buried, knowing full well that it has set the marker by which any settlement is judged on the Turkish side. And time and again he has launched stinging attacks on Turkey and especially on its armed forces, when he has been around for long enough to know that such behaviour will only put his interlocutors on the defensive, reducing their margin for manoeuvre and tightening the bond between the north and Ankara.

The answer of course is that both sides engage in such rhetoric to keep their nationalist bedfellows on board through a procedure hard to swallow for many in both camps.

It’s understandable, but it’s very risky. For years, Greek Cypriot leaders negotiated on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation while telling the voters that a solution would be in line with UN resolutions, that all refugees would go home and all Turkish troops and settlers would leave. When the Annan plan landed on the table, Greek Cypriots were genuinely shocked, and quite understandably. This had nothing to do with the fantasy solution they had been told they were entitled to expect.

The same thing could happen again. Both sides may negotiate in good faith, but if they are telling their voters what they want to hear, rather than preparing them for the painful compromise they will have to swallow, they will face an uphill struggle to overcome the negative climate that they themselves have sowed.





(Source: Cyprus Mail)

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