This time it’s critical

There can be no doubt that, after so many years of abuse, the expression «critical phase» has been somewhat devitalized as regards Cyprus. Nevertheless, the current phase of negotiations is actually more than critical. But, unfortunately, the current pre-election fever not only diminishes the relative significance of negotiations; it might also mean that certain developments in the ongoing debate – which would have been deemed unacceptable and would have provoked dialogue among the Greek political parties during a less politically charged period – are much more likely to be accepted without comment now. Indeed, the spotlight on general elections has distracted Greek citizens (still concerned about Cyprus despite talk about the subject having been exhausted) from attempts to reunite the island. It appears that the «critical national issue» of Cyprus has been used as an excuse to clinch early elections. This is despite the fact that everyone knew that the worst thing that could happen would be for talks to enter a genuinely critical phase during the turmoil of an election countdown. And now the Turkish-Cypriot proposal – following the stalemate of United Nations-brokered talks in New York – that there be four-way talks (involving officials from Greece, Turkey, and both sides of Cyprus) and that UN head Kofi Annan propose a final solution if these break down, inspires little hope.