Cyprus and the reformers

The statement by Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos on Wednesday evening was striking, not only in how he argued the case against the proposed settlement and resisted entangling Greece by emphasizing that the decision to be made in the April 24 referendum was the sole responsibility of Greek Cypriots, but also because of the emotional baggage it carried, particularly toward the end. Various reformers may well have been annoyed, but their only permanent supporters are regular fans of the television programs that persistently promoted PASOK leader George Papandreou during the election campaign. That attempt failed dismally as New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis won by an overwhelming majority. Now the same media outlets are trying to frighten the Greek Cypriots into voting for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposed solution. They will doubtless fail again and will fall in the estimation of Greeks and Greek Cypriots. The problem with the reformists in Greece, primarily former premier Costas Simitis, is that they do not have their own ideas and, unlike other countries in the West, simply go along with third-party advice. The only thing they achieved after eight years in office was to create an entangled web of economic interests and a provincial social interchange based on exchanging compliments, deploring the primitive nature of Greek society and then going home feeling satisfied. Following ND’s electoral victory, they are trying to put Karamanlis in a corner, raising false dilemmas such as whether the Greek premier should take a stand on the referendum and recommend that Greek Cypriots vote in favor of it. None of these politicians doing so – including the clan of ND elder Constantinos Mitsotakis – have considered the consequences of such a break between the Greek prime minister and many Greek Cypriots as well as the island’s political leadership, given that Greece’s involvement with Cyprus has no expiry date, based on either the earlier Zurich Treaty or the current Annan plan. Papandreou demonstrated political superficiality – if not folly – by linking a solution to European dynamics, even though the Annan plan is, overall, a departure from the EU’s acquis communautaire. Papadopoulos’s speech gave a crushing and specific answer to the PASOK leader. The Greek Cypriots will decide on the basis of their president’s and other political leaders’ positions, and Karamanlis will support whatever the citizens of Cyprus decide.

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