OPINION

Cyprus speculation

European capitals are currently pondering the Cyprus issue as the double referenda loom without any clear sign as to whether the UN draft proposal will be accepted by the island’s two communities. Some European leaders, such as Britain’s Tony Blair and Germany’s Gerhard Schroeder, have already spoken in favor of the Annan solution. And in Brussels, EU bodies have been trying to send the same message to the Cypriots. In Athens, European diplomats are trying to plumb the intentions of Greek political parties and to interpret the messages from opinion polls, which suggest rejection of the plan by a large majority. They also seem to understand the logic in the arguments of those who oppose the plan, realizing that the structure of the new state will mainly affect the prosperity of the Greek Cypriots, who have managed to thrive against great odds over the past 30 years. The European diplomats charge that it was the Greek Cypriots and Greece which for years had been pressing the international community to get involved in the Cyprus issue, leading to many UN resolutions condemning Turkey and to many proposed solutions that were rejected. That so, they ask, why did the parties involved insist on the continuation of UN General-Secretary Kofi Annan’s initiative when they realized that it would lead to a dead end? In any case, they believe that if the Cypriots vote against the proposal, there will not be any new initiative soon – as the EU will be an involved party and the UN will be in no mood for further entanglement. They also do not see any reason for the northern part of the island to remain under international isolation should the solution not work out. In other words, they believe that the island’s division might actually materialize. They note that if the Cypriot leaders have something like this in the back of their minds, it would be good if this were raised after the referenda, especially if the Turkish Cypriots vote «yes» and the Greek Cypriots «no» – something that until recently had been considered the least likely outcome.