Joint responsibility

Despite the general election on March 7, neither the government nor the opposition called for a suspension of talks on the reunification of Cyprus. By contrast, when Turkey held elections two years ago, Athens thought it natural to freeze negotiations until a new administration was formed in Ankara. Instead, our politically shaky government called for early elections on the pretext of the Cyprus issue. In the runup to the ballot (and in agreement with Nicosia which is under pressure from all sides), we gave the green light to crucial developments, accepting the American- and British-backed proposals of the UN secretary-general. The fallout will be dealt with by the government which will emerge from the March vote. It is common knowledge that this will most likely be a New Democracy government. It will be in charge of related developments and will bear political responsibility for every decision concerning Greece’s position in talks with Ankara within the framework of a four-sided meeting. Should George Papandreou become premier, on the other hand, he will bear the political responsibility for an issue that he himself has raised. Simitis, Papandreou and opposition leader Costas Karamanlis have jointly shouldered full responsibility for future developments on the Cyprus issue. Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, of course, must bear his own share of responsibility for what he agreed upon in New York. That said, no one can ignore the pressure he was subjected to (also from Athens) in order to endorse Kofi Annan’s plan. Following the latest developments on the issue, Greece appears to barely have any special national interests in Cyprus. Turkey, on the other hand, seems to weigh its own interests on the island otherwise.