Crucial period

The impending rejection of the UN’s Cyprus reunification plan in today’s referendum by Greek Cypriots, combined with its expected endorsement by the Turkish minority will usher in a new environment that will demand a revised policy on the issue. The day after must mark the beginning of new initiatives by the Greek and Greek-Cypriot side which must also be prepared to counter potential countermeasures by the Turkish side or the international community. Cyprus’s EU peers will most likely meet its administration with mistrust and even express sympathy for the Turkish Cypriots with specific measures. Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis is also bracing himself for a cold welcome at Monday’s General Affairs Council in Luxembourg. Despite the recent oaths of friendship and cooperation exchanged between the prime ministers of Greece and Turkey, many commentators expect to see an impact on Greek-Turkish relations. Athens is worried about the nascent context but it is confident that a number of initiatives and proposals, coming mostly from the Greek-Cypriot government, can help overcome the early reactions to a rejection of the Annan blueprint. Cypriot leader Tassos Papadopoulos will visit Athens on Wednesday in order to map out a new Cyprus policy with Athens. This will demand daring measures and imagination. The Cyprus issue will inevitably require a great deal of time and effort from Karamanlis at a time of intensive preparations for the Olympics and the post-Games period. This will not be an easy autumn for the Greek government. The economic problems (worsened by the Games) will have become more evident and will require a new set of policies, while the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations will mandate a new foreign policy strategy. This could prove to be the most crucial period for Karamanlis.

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