OPINION

Arm-twisting falls through

Standing next to US Secretary of State Colin Powell and with a servile smile on his face, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said on Tuesday that if the Greek Cypriots reject the UN plan, «life will not be the same. Everyone has to know that.» The arm-twisting tactics employed by the Washington-London axis in their attempt to change Greek-Cypriot minds ahead of the April 24 referendum on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s plan eventually failed, sparking international reaction instead. The axis suffered a diplomatic blow in the Security Council while members of the European Commission, including the EU president, Romano Prodi, chided EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen for his loss of good political manners and fiery support of a «yes» vote. The US went too far in its anxious attempt for a Cyprus settlement; in fact any settlement. Seeing Washington’s pressure on and blackmail of Nicosia, a considerable section of the international community was convinced that it has no reason to become embroiled in political balancing acts, commitments or «dangerous games» in a sensitive region like the eastern Mediterranean when this would not serve the people of Cyprus but America’s strategic interests instead. The sharp-edged diplomacy of the US and Britain, with the purpose of changing Greek-Cypriot minds, their anxious efforts to impose the proposed solution and the extremely dramatic and intimidating atmosphere that they have tried to impose on the island – with the aid of various circles in Athens – do not appear to have borne any fruit. Had Washington and London adopted a more subtle and diplomatic approach on the issue, they would have done much better at selling Annan’s peace settlement to the people.