OPINION

Vindication

No one can question the success of Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s government in winning an EU invitation for Cyprus and creating the prospects for a settlement to the political dispute. However, for historical as well as educational reasons, we should note that the recent diplomatic triumph of Athens and Nicosia was the inevitable outcome of the late Constantine Karamanlis’s decision more than 40 years ago to tie Greece’s fate to Europe, in what proved to be a tough and lonely political battle. History always vindicates leaders’ sound decisions while punishing their mistakes and omissions. This applies not only to previous protagonists of the political spectrum. Subsequent politicians have to learn from past mistakes or build on the correct decisions of their predecessors. Karamanlis often stressed that he chose the European path mainly for the political benefits that our country would reap and, only secondarily, for the economic ones. His political rivals at the time were unable to grasp these advantages. They opposed Greece’s membership of what was then the EEC and, when they rode to power, they exploited the economic benefits of Greece’s membership to the maximum while clearly subordinating any political ones. We should not forget that the late Socialist Premier Andreas Papandreou helped lead the Non-Aligned Movement until this dissolved along with the end of the Soviet system. For his part, Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus committed a similar mistake when he turned down Karamanlis’s recommendation to push for the island’s NATO membership right after the Zurich agreement, which offered a far more favorable deal than the recent UN proposal. In politics as in war, victory requires the right strategy and smart tactical moves. In the case of Cyprus, Simitis must be credited with following the right tactics. But his victory owes much to the vision and strategy first conceived by Karamanlis. The current prime minister and his aides have the obligation to admit and declare the following truth: Big national decisions are taken without ideological prejudice or political expediency. Similarly, they are served with stability and consistency, the sole criterion being the well-being of the country and the people.