Softening up the public

Under strong pressure from the international powers to show flexibility, understanding and pragmatism, Nicosia and Athens are due to meet today in Buergenstock, Switzerland in four-way talks on Cyprus’s reunification. The international powers (the US and Britain in particular) want to see Nicosia and Athens agree on the plan hammered out by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan (who is supposed to fill the blanks left by Greece and Turkey), despite any objections that they may have. Ankara, on the other hand, is in a far better position. The UN blueprint is based on the idea of partition and a form of constitution, both of which are in line with Turkey’s longstanding demands. As the two sides engaged in heated behind-the-scenes bargaining, some political and diplomatic circles are trying, through the press, to soften up the Greek and Greek-Cypriot public for an imminent and unpleasant political development. Some want to prepare the ground and seek to justify the positions (hard or soft) of governments which have not yet dared to express a clear-cut stance on Cyprus. Others either threaten some undeclared political enemies or try to disguise from their political superiors developments which have been long under way. These people show their huge anxiety (or even their fixations on Cyprus) in view of unpleasant developments which are to come. But they are wrong if they think that these «games» will deflect politicians’ and people’s attention from the huge responsibilities of those who will decide the fate of the bitterly divided island. Although some in Athens and Cyprus claim that the issue is a hard sell to the public, it still carries enough political heft to crush any player who agrees to an unfavorable conclusion.