OPINION

Doorway to the unknown

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposal for the reunification of Cyprus is at odds with the principles, positions and pledges that have been voiced for the last 28 years by the political elite in Athens and Nicosia. The document shows that the political leaders have been negotiating other provisions over the previous three years. Greece’s political elite was embarrassed at the publication of the plan and officials immediately began to talk about the need for tough negotiations. But there is no room for any negotiation, for neither Annan nor anyone else will be willing to discuss any part of the deal as this would undermine the work of the planners. This is why Annan will only accept minor changes to the plan which the political elite will then rush to present as substantial. Either one sees Annan’s blueprint as the tree or the forest. Regardless, the plan is the layout for an extremely dysfunctional state which, from a constitutional perspective, mostly meets Turkish demands. The new element in the current plan, compared to past proposals – without ignoring the positive provision for the return of territory – is that those who have hammered out the plan have not proclaimed the viability of the new state based on the provisions they have drawn up, but on Cyprus’s accession to the European Union. Given that the main parties in Athens and Nicosia are blindly attracted to the idea of European unification, they are most likely to embrace the plan with a minimum of modifications. This is the prevailing political view in Athens and Nicosia, and, in an attempt to avoid public disaffection, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis has recommended that skeptical Socialist deputies first await Nicosia’s decision. However, Simitis has overlooked the fact that Greece is a guarantor power – along with Britain and Turkey – and, regardless of who is the prime minister to sign the agreement, should the deal prove ineffective, its negative repercussions will be shared by the entire nation. Therefore, our politicians must take a clear stand on the issue. It is worth mentioning at this point that the late Constantine Karamanlis characterized the signature of the Zurich Agreement as «the happiest day of his life.» The agreement soon collapsed and its failure was attributed to Archbishop Makarios, who was clearly largely responsible, but it was the Greeks of Greece and Cyprus who paid the price of that failure for decades. Past experience shows that the viability of any agreement depends on its ability to function, not on the charismatic character of the leaders who emerge from the parliamentary system. Today the experiment is being tried once again, this time pushed by the so-called European momentum in whose cause we are willing to revise fundamental views on the subject of Cyprus’s division. Those lured by the European vision are already celebrating. But should the European momentum prove little more than an illusion, the consequences will affect the Greek people as a whole. For some, however, it only matters whether you are moving forward.