CULTURE

Journalists enjoy master class with Greece’s foreign minister

wo hours spent listening to Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis talking about living with the Cyprus problem for 48 years, during his visit to the Neo Faliron offices of Kathimerini, can truly be called a master class on foreign policy. More simply put, it is the dream of every journalist or commentator. Convened by Kathimerini SA’s Chairman Aristides Alafouzos, the meeting was held on Wednesday afternoon. Molyviatis spoke at length of his memories, experiences and also his predictions regarding the Cyprus issue. Molyviatis, who with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Foreign Ministry diplomats run the nation’s foreign policy, did not speak in the manner of officials at a press conference. As he was among journalist friends with whom he has shared much over his long public career, what he had to say was truly exciting, lively, colorful and full of opinions, since our friend Petros Molyviatis is an excellent storyteller and an intelligent interlocutor. He arrived promptly at 2.30 p.m. after a morning of meetings and talks with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, President Costis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Karamanlis, followed by joint statements to the press. «That is a fault of mine. I am always on time,» he said as he was greeted by Kathimerini’s chairman. Also present were SKAI radio’s President Yiannis Alafouzos, Kathimerini’s editor in chief Antonis Karakousis, editorial director Christos Panagopoulos, commentators Antonis Karkayiannis, Costas Iordanidis, Stavros Lygeros and diplomatic correspondent Giorgos Bourdaras, as well as board member Martha Dertili. Also there was Helbi, an old friend from the early days after the end of the dictatorship when Molyviatis was a close associate of, and then general secretary to, then-President Constantine Karamanlis during his two terms in the post. He was just as loyal an associate («I used to see him every day») after Karamanlis had retired to his home in Politeia between his two presidential terms. Molyviatis had many memories of those times, such as when Karamanlis the elder was prime minister and paying visits to all European leaders to persuade them to accept Greece into the fold, an achievement that has made Greece the strongest power in the Balkans, with the highest growth rate and living standards in the region. His reply to the question «How long have you been dealing with the Cyprus question?» was: «Since December 1956, when I first joined the Foreign Ministry. I was appointed by (the late minister) Evangelos Averoff.» And he was off, relating incident after incident from those times. «When something begins in Europe, it is concluded. Time works in favor of any goal that has been set,» he said. As for how long he plans to be on the front line in forging foreign policy, before going «home for a rest,» this appears to be an impossible dream, in a life where diplomacy and politics have always been the priority. He himself prophesied «until (next) spring,» but no one believed him. We can rest easy with Molyviatis, the ambassador who as a minister lent prestige to the Foreign Ministry, when its most senior diplomat, Giorgos Yennimatas, was general secretary. Journalists who travel with the minister say, «You know Molyviatis, you trust him and accept him.» As for the Cyprus issue, Cyprus’s accession to the EU on May 1 is essentially a solution. What remains is the reunification of the island. Key to our foreign policy is Greece’s support for Turkey’s accession to the EU within the year and good relations between Greece and its neighbor. There was no time to discuss the Olympics, but Molyviatis stood looking out of Kathimerini’s window at the huge construction site of the Kiffissou-Poseidonos avenues intersection. Petros Molyviatis is a man who sees far ahead.