Final stretch

With the expiration of the deadline that United Nations’s Secretary-General Kofi Annan set for the two communities in Cyprus, the diplomatic race for a settlement of the lingering division of the island enters its final stretch, only a few days ahead of the European Union’s summit meeting in Copenhagen. Government officials believe that anything is possible and that the Greek side will have to put up a strong fight during the summit in order to accomplish its unnegotiable goal: Cyprus’s EU accession with or without a prior reunification agreement should the Turkish side maintain its intransigent stance on the issue. Regardless of any reservations that we may have over Annan’s blueprint, it is nevertheless a fact that for the first time since 1974, time is running in favor of the Greek-Cypriot side. If the Cypriot Republic – rather than a unified Cyprus – eventually joins the EU, the Green Line will no longer segregate Turkish Cypriots from the Greek Cypriots but from an integrated, democratic Europe. Any attempt to spark artificial tension or to create new military precedents will bring Turkey at odds not only with Greece but with the EU itself. The Green Line will symbolize the last «Wall of Shame» on the Continent which will inevitably crumble – sooner or later. This development confirms the soundness of the European strategy for resolving the Cyprus issue – a strategy which has been adopted by all of Greece’s governments over the last decade. But as in war, also in diplomacy the right strategy does not alone guarantee a victory unless one wins the decisive tactical battles. The Greek government will have to mobilize all its reserves for a «clean solution» of accession by ensuring a decision at the Copenhagen summit which will leave open the prospect of a political settlement on the Mediterranean island until the official ratification of EU membership next spring, and which will open the way for Turkey’s EU course without making any discounts on the Union’s acquis communautaire. In its effort, the Greek side will need the backing of all entire political parties, which must abstain – as they have done until now – from opportunistic games that aim to serve petty partisan objectives.

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