Alexis Papachelas ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

Clear lines of communication

COMMENT

TAGS: Politics, Turkey

I read the recent remarks made by leftist opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, criticizing the conservative government’s handling of Greece’s relations with Turkey. We need to be careful that this very sensitive and dangerous issue is not put at the forefront of a domestic political confrontation. We have paid a terrible price for doing this in the past. 

A tense and risky game is unfolding around Cyprus at the moment. It needs to be handled in a decisive and smart manner so that the crisis does not escalate further into a military dispute, without anyone even knowing what the ultimate objective is.

France will naturally play a crucial role in future developments given its interest in the area. Greece and Cyprus, meanwhile, need to assess all of the many factors at play and wage a joint campaign to build a common front that will put pressure on Ankara.

In the past, the opposition in Greece and certain circles in Cyprus engaged in cheap tricks, accusing Athens of not doing enough to help Nicosia.

The current leaders in Athens and Nicosia, thankfully, possess the wisdom and historical memory to avoid repeating mistakes made in the past. After all, Cyprus has a major advantage that should not be underestimated: It is an equal member of the European Union. The coming weeks will demonstrate what significance this has. 

As prime minister, Tsipras had a sensible stance opposite Ankara. Even when Panos Kammenos, his outspoken defense minister at the time, upped the ante, Tsipras would make sure to keep behind-the-scenes channels of communication with Turkey open, making it clear that Kammenos had more bark than bite. It would be inconsistent, to say the least, to change his tune and accuse the government today of not taking a harder line on Turkey. 

One might argue that Mitsotakis also went too far in his opposition to the Prespes deal brokered by Tsipras. Only that the name issue is one thing whereas our relations with Turkey and the Cyprus issue is quite another. It never ends well when political parties compete over their patriotic credentials. 

I want to believe that, given the circumstances, all the sides have maintained clear lines of communication. First of all, Athens and Nicosia and, secondly, Mitsotakis and Tsipras. It is absolutely necessary that these two lines of communication remain healthy and intact.

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