Unusual visit

The main hazard confronting Greece before the elections is that the ruling reformists may be tempted to supplement their «economic miracle» with some foreign policy triumph – especially on the Cyprus issue. Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos will visit Athens on September 16 for consultations in view of the UN General Assembly. Nothing unusual in that. What is unusual, however, is that Foreign Minister George Papandreou will visit Nicosia on September 10-12 to prepare the visit. This may be just another sign of Papandreou’s hyperactive style. If not, then Papandreou is probably trying to countermand Papadopoulos’s objections on a very crucial issue. It would be risky to predict future developments but there are signs that something is in flux on the Cyprus issue. US Special Coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston is on a European tour. At the same time, there is much talk about a pending US initiative after the UN meeting in September. Regardless of what Athens says, the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that of breakaway leader Rauf Denktash and the opposition parties in northern Cyprus all agree that there are «two states» and «two peoples» on the island – something that is not clearly stated in the Annan plan. Should Papadopoulos be pressured into showing more flexibility, this would be in acknowledging – even momentarily – the sovereignty of the breakaway state. The opposition parties in Northern Cyprus said last week that if they win the December polls, they will oust Denktash from negotiations and appoint a new group. This would create additional complexities, for it would put heat on the Greek side for new compromises. Greece must make it clear that, far from making any further concessions, it will endorse the UN plan only after substantial alterations.

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