Forced dialogue?

The first official session of Parliament’s National Foreign Policy and Defense Council on Tuesday confirms the fact that when there is no real will for substantial political dialogue, a forum for the exchange of opinions (albeit among experts with rich and valuable experience) is inevitably set up. The issue of a country’s foreign relations is not a technocratic affair; it is chiefly political and is directly related to the influence – political and economic – that the country has on its immediate geographical sphere and within the international bodies of which it forms a part. Prime Minister Costas Simitis brags that Greece succeeded in joining the hard core of the European Union during his tenure at the helm of its presidency, but in matters of foreign policy he acts as if he is under orders – as was the case with the Arabian countries after World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. During Simitis’s EU presidency, Cyprus signed the Union’s accession treaty and is due to become a fully fledged member next May. But instead of this development inspiring a sense of self-confidence – and thus encouraging Greece to insist on the adoption of radical changes to the unworkable Annan plan for a Cyprus solution – Athens is gripped by anxiety. On the other hand, bureaucracy in Ankara and Rauf Denktash’s breakaway state are not hesitating to project maximalist stances that, even if they are not adopted in their entirety, will certainly mean that Annan’s plan is changed for the worse.