New failure teaches a lesson

The Turkish «No» to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s plan for the reunification of Cyprus must teach a lesson to Greek Foreign Ministry officials, especially to those amateurish aides that surround the foreign minister. The first lesson is that in diplomacy you should not be the first to make a unilateral good-faith gesture; you also should not overestimate the niceties of your interlocutor, and you should not be the first to accept compromise in the hope of a similar response from your counterpart. This is even more the case when dealing with Turkey – not because Ankara is a skilled bargainer, but rather because its behavior does not follow the long-established Western principles of weighing the pros and cons of a policy and making all decisions on the basis of the national interest as understood by democratic governments. It’s also because the Turkish government is not an agent of the public but of the military bureaucracy. As a result, the Turkish negotiator pays no heed to so-called public sentiment since he is accountable to a power which does not derive its power from the people, as in Western societies. Hence Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash rejected the plan in spite of the fact that the overwhelming majority of his fellow citizens wanted the plan as well as EU membership. He even snubbed the calls of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s ostensible power-wielder, who failed to keep his promise of imposing a more flexible stance on Denktash. Hence it is clear where Denktash draws his power from. Similarly, it is clear that our country cannot trust any Turkish premier or foreign minister to be reliable or independent, for decisions actually abide with the all-powerful military establishment. From now on, Greece must wait for tangible proof of Turkey’s good will before accepting any initiative or proposal from Turkey.