OPINION

A bargaining chip?

The controversial issue of the mention of religious affiliation on citizens’ identity cards was not broached during Wednesday’s meeting between Archbishop Christodoulos and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis – hardly surprising, as the politically astute archbishop knows the value of timing and did not want to reignite such an inflammatory issue so soon into the new government’s reign. Indeed, those who know how the archbishop works believe he intends to use the issue as a bargaining chip to make gains in other areas. In any case, reporters questioned Christodoulos about identity cards following a statement by the government spokesman, Theodoros Roussopoulos, that New Democracy retains the same stance on the matter as it had when it was in opposition – that citizens should be able to choose whether their religion is mentioned or not. And with impeccable diplomacy, the archbishop responded that «the matter will be examined when the time is right.» When the «right time» has come to broach an issue the archbishop regards as a top priority is a matter of opinion. But it is unlikely he will want to create problems for the government before the Europarliament elections in June. Of course, the government is aware that even the optional reference to religion on ID cards has been deemed unconstitutional by the Council of State – and maybe it knew this before the elections – but now it wants to exploit the widespread revolt Simitis’s regime caused with its decision on ID cards.