Deja vu

All Greek governments in the last 50 years have found that the Cyprus issue is an extremely difficult and complicated political problem whose resolution does not depend only on the skill of Greek policymakers. Again, this time, no one can claim that the failure of the talks was a result of poor handling by Costas Simitis’s government. There are many players in this case, and Ankara remains a very tough rival for Athens and Nicosia. Nevertheless, after the collapse of the talks, Simitis’s government has come under fire and been subject to ironic comments at home. The reason for this is that it is widely reckoned that it was not only efforts to settle the Cyprus issue that failed at The Hague, but also the core of Simitis’s much-hyped, «revised» policy on Turkey. It’s always easier, of course, to make political judgments with hindsight. But in this particular case Simitis was often warned, even by cadres of the Socialist party, that his «revised» policy on Ankara was not based on solid foundations. From the very beginning, the much-heralded, Greek-Turkish rapprochement consisted of, on the one hand, an Athens which unreservedly backed the European aspirations of its eastern neighbor, with a clear wish to settle the Aegean Sea disputes and reach a viable settlement on the Cyprus issue, and, on the other, an Ankara which gladly accepted Greece’s openhandedness without altering one of its positions on the Aegean and Cyprus. Developments on the Cyprus issue to date as well as Ankara’s stance on the Aegean have once again demonstrated that Simitis’s government does not possess the requisite foresight when dealing with so-called national issues. This huge shortcoming was reflected in the naive view of Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan last November. After seven years in the top post, Simitis does not seem to have become any wiser.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.