OPINION

Political impropriety

The greatest political impropriety of the outgoing government is that although it called for early national elections on the pretext of the Cyprus issue, it did not request a postponement of bilateral talks – a demand that the Turkish side has repeatedly made in the past – thus developments have come to a very delicate point. During his swearing-in ceremony, new Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis rightly said that the process agreed upon in New York is a binding one, but this by no means suggests that there will be no further bargaining or that the governments of Greece and Cyprus have an outstanding obligation to endorse an unacceptable plan. During the electoral campaign, New Democracy, then in the opposition, assured Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos that he would enjoy full backing from the conservative party and, after the New York deal, Costas Karamanlis expressed his support for the decisions and the Greek-Cypriot leader’s handling of the issue. Those statements were not an attempt to duck the issue, simply because no one will have to pay the price of an unacceptable and potentially destabilizing settlement except the Greek-Cypriot population. Furthermore, history shows that any decisions taken by the so-called national center (Greece), and which run against the will of Nicosia, were eventually disastrous. Of course, foreign powers are seeking ways to show the Greek side in a negative light and, turning a blind eye to the intransigence of Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, have portrayed Papadopoulos as an extremist. In similar fashion, the foreign powers are now trying to depict Molyviatis as a nationalist politician in an attempt to pressure Athens and Nicosia into further compromises. Both Papadopoulos and Karamanlis have made it clear they want a viable, functional solution that is compatible with UN Security Council resolutions and the EU’s acquis communautaire. International officials would be naive to think such commitments are made to con the public. For the US, the desire for a reunification settlement may be dictated by a will to see Turkey enter the EU. At the same time, Greece’s European peers – save Britain, which has special interests on the island – may wrongly deem that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s plan could rid them of an irritating problem in the future. But for Athens and Nicosia, the Cyprus issue is of vital national interest. It is up to Papadopoulos to decide if Annan’s final blueprint is up for a referendum and up to the Cypriot people to take it or not, based on their interests. Otherwise, Cyprus’s sovereignty is effectively abolished and the entire island will feel the negative consequences of the Turkish invasion.