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Friday, September 07, 2007

Mr. Talat, the Annan Plan is Dead...

And there is no chance of resurrecting it.

Further more, all five United Nations Security Council permanent members have endorsed the July 8th agreement as the only process now on the table for a Cyprus settlement.

Why are you trying to dilute this agreement?

You state there is nothing in the July 8 agreement prohibiting time frames. Why all this sudden talk on time frames? For the past 14 months, you have done nothing but with regard to the implementation of the agreement that was reached between you and Mr. Papadopoulos on the 8th of July during the Mission of Under-Secretary-General Ibrahim Gambari.

The president of the Republic has extended his hand and offered to meet again with you soon to proceed forward with the peace process. Why have you turned down this invitation?

(Cypriot media coverage below on the failed meeting)

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From the Cyprus Weekly:

No breakthrough

Not clear when leaders will meet again

By Menelaos Hadjicostis

HOPES that the Papadopoulos-Talat talks would deliver a needed breakthrough putting the July 8 agreement on track faded as fast as it took to read a terse, three-sentence wrap-up statement pronouncing the process comatose.

It’s unclear when the two will meet again and indications are that the Turkish side wants to dilute the agreement and render it inert so that it can be supplanted by direct talks on a resurrected Annan Plan, Nicosia charged.

"Mr Talat wanted changes to the Gambari process. He wants immediate talks without the committees, or for the role of the committees to be limited to a purely technical level of listing the headings to be discussed," President Tassos Papadopoulos told reporters after the three-hour meeting.

The rationale behind the Nicosia-inspired, twin-track procedure (a.k.a. Gambari process) that both sides signed off on last year is to task committees with discussing day-to-day and core Cyprus issues so as to adequately prepare the ground for full-fledged negotiations.

Grapple

The two community leaders would get together periodically to grapple with major sticking points officials would point out.

But the Turkish Cypriot leader sought to "re-arrange" the agreement by setting a two-month deadline on committee talks thus "accelerating" what he said was an open-ended process that "would last 14 months, 14 years, or 140 years.

"We observed that there was no psychological preparedness for the opening of comprehensive negotiations," said Mehmet Ali Talat, who also wanted a reunification deal by the end of 2008.

"Our proposal was aimed at accelerating the July 8 process, disciplining it and turning it into a process that can yield results. How is this moving away from the July 8 process?"

Nicosia’s unequivocal reply was that comprehensive negotiations without due preparation free from time constraints are doomed to failure.

Such a failure could raise the spectre of permanent partition as the international community’s post-referendum disenchantment could coalesce into the belief that there can be no Cyprus settlement.

Papadopoulos said diminishing the role of the committees would "not have accelerated the process, but on the contrary, would have expedited the realisation that there is deadlock".

Strident

Papadopoulos rejected both the notion of open-ended talks dragging on indefinitely as well as setting time constraints to negotiations.

He said slapping a deadline on the process cannot guarantee there would be adequate preparation for substantial talks to take place on the leadership level.

"We’re not talking about discussions that would carry on indefinitely or over the long term, simply the course of discussions themselves would dictate the timetable," said Papadopoulos.

Government Spokesman Vassilis Palmas said Talat was so strident in his positions that he turned down a Papadopoulos invitation to meet again on Monday for another try at a deal.

Papadopoulos proposed an October date for another face-to-face sit-down but Talat was non-committal.

"We’ll make yet another effort to implement this process…the President of the Republic tried to convince Mr Talat to implement the agreement and Mr Talat tried every way to free himself from it," said Palmas.

Palmas said the Talat’s pitch for regular meetings with Papadopoulos intended to railroad the process back to directly negotiating the defunct Annan Plan, irrespective of whether the committees had marked progress.

"President Papadopoulos rejected carrying out negotiations based on the Annan plan as Mr Talat insinuated…the agreed-upon procedure is the July 8 process which foresees the basis for a settlement arising from the implementation of the agreement," said Palmas.

All five UN Security Council permanent members have endorsed July 8 as the only process now in play that could lead to full-fledged settlement negotiations.

Nicosia’s sees July 8 as a vehicle to shift the basis of a Cyprus settlement away from the Annan Plan that Greek Cypriots voted down for fear that it would put the entire island under Turkey’s thumb.

Unready

Analysts suggested this failure could mean Ankara is either unready or unwilling to get the ball rolling on Cyprus on the belief that continued stalemate won’t hurt its EU accession prospects.

The only glimmer of hope for resuscitating July 8 lies in the fact that both leaders agreed to keep the process going by meeting again.

"Mr Papadopoulos and Mr Talat held their discussion in a constructive atmosphere," said a sombre Moller, reading from a prepared statement.

"They agreed on the need for the earliest start of the process, and discussed other issues, leading to a comprehensive settlement. They agreed to continue their contact through the United Nations and to meet again when appropriate."

Despite a shared understanding of the need for "the earliest start," the obvious problem with that statement is when the two leaders would meet again. The vague "when appropriate" leaves the process hanging in the air for at least until late autumn.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Annan Plan, take a look at Shlomo Avineri's opinion piece at IHT.com. Hard-hitting truth on Cyprus and on Carl Bildt and Massimo D'Alema.