International Crisis report condemned from both sides

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The International Crisis Group presented its report published on March 8 entitled ‘The Cyprus Stalemate: What Next?’ at Ledra Palace on Wednesday.

The report was badly received by the Republic of Cyprus government as it pinpointed President Tassos Papadopoulos as the main obstacle to a solution.

The report was presented Nicolas Whyte from ICG, while brief comments on the report were given by two Greek Cypriots: Professor Andreas Theophanous of Intercollege and Civil society activist Andros Karayiannis, and two Turkish Cypriots: Assistant Professor of Political Science Erol Kaymak and Former member of Turkish Cypriot negotiating team Ergun Olgun.

Perhaps the most surprising development was that a member of the audience identified with the ‘yes’ vote, political scientist and researcher Yiouli Taki, agreed with Professor Theophanous (identified with the No vote) that the report was unbalanced and biased.

Taki, commenting from the audience, suggested that the IGC was confusing Greek Cypriots with President Tassos Papadopoulos and that its tone would not help Greek Cypriots come back to the negotiating table.

Theophanous said the report was “vindictive” and “patronising” and that there was a ‘hidden attempt to have a historical revisionism,’ pointing to linguistic uses of words which he said showed a Turkish bias.

Theophanous said that the three guarantor powers were part of the problem and could not be part of the solution, since Cyprus had matured over the last decades.

Kaymak said that the authors had assumed that it is “the Annan plan or nothing”, saying that he was sceptical whether modifications to the Annan Plan would win the support of Turkish Cypriots.

He also pointed to confusion about whether the EU was trying to improve the situation of Turkish Cypriots or upgrade the status of the Turkish Cypriot community.

He also accused the IGC of treating too lightly unilateral steps at rapprochement which he argued were more complex to implement in practice. For example, he noted that the UN had criticised Turkish Cypriots for their unilateral attempt to open a new crossing point in downtown Nicosia.

Among those who supported the report, Olgun said that the report should be commended for its “non-conformist approach” but criticised the international community’s general approach to solving the Cyprus problem for not using well known methods in conflict resolution.

Karayiannis said that whether or not one agreed with the content, it should be taken seriously.

He said that each side should take the ICG’s to-do list and ask itself “why the group has come to these conclusions”.