OPINION

Implications

Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will in the April 24 referenda decide their fate on the basis of their bitter experience and by taking into consideration all the parameters of the problem as these present themselves at the moment. However, they may still not be fully aware of all the crucial aspects of the reunification blueprint, and the proposal by AKEL party leader Dimitris Christofias aims to temper these concerns by giving people on both sides of the Green Line the opportunity to make up their minds in an informed and responsible manner. The current frenzy against the United Nations plan, Christofias said, obscures the debate by discarding the positive aspects of the proposed solution. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan did not rule out the possibility of the referenda being postponed under the condition that such a decision is backed by all sides. Despite fierce reactions from the military establishment in Ankara, Turkish Cypriots and Turkey are against a postponement. They seem to favor a «yes» vote at the poll and have been presented with a great opportunity to come across – for the first time – as being in sync with the UN and the big international powers, the US as well as the EU, which would not like to inherit a divided Cyprus. Despite any complexities that it might entail, Christofias’s proposal is worth discussing in Nicosia and Athens. Both governments must make the necessary diplomatic steps in order to push the idea. The looming outcome of the referendum appears tragicomic and dangerous. The Greek Cypriots appear close to rejecting the plan, in a verdict which will be widely perceived as a refusal to coexist with the Muslim Turk Cypriots who will most likely say «yes» to the plan and to reunification. This would mark a reversal of developments up to now, whereby Greek Cypriots had sought to reunify the island and live along with the Turkish-Cypriot population. Greek Cypriots would come across as being at odds with the UN and with the fundamental EU principle of harmonious coexistence among different peoples and respect for the right of minorities to self-rule and self-determination. What Greeks and Greek Cypriots must take into consideration is the unprecedented interest of Washington and US President George W. Bush, who is pushing both sides to endorse the plan. Our typical anti-American demeanor could easily lead us to reject the deal. But we should mind the consequences.