New strategy

The twin referenda on the UN reunification blueprint for Cyprus were followed by conflicting interpretations, promises and warnings. Despite cautionary statements that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s plan would be the «last chance» for a solution, and notwithstanding that such warnings were used as a means of pressure on Greek Cypriots to endorse the deal, it is certain that the referenda will not be the end of efforts to overcome the longstanding division on the island. After all, the reasons that brought all sides to the table of negotiations persist. The Greek-Cypriot administration must take the initiative and push for a resumption of negotiations – this time on a fairer and more realistic basis. The government in Nicosia will have to display resourcefulness, courage, generosity and, most importantly perhaps, a unanimous and coordinated stand in order to restore its image that was tarnished in part because of orchestrated outside pressure. The first step in this new political endeavor is what Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has already declared: The government must take a string of measures so that the benefits which will derive from Cyprus’s EU membership will spill over to the Turkish-Cypriot community. This will confirm the sincere will of Greek Cypriots to live in harmony with Turkish Cypriots and convey a strong political message to the Turkish-Cypriot community that it seeks to reunify the island and not to prolong division. On top of these measures, which Nicosia and Athens must promote within the EU in order to mitigate the more negative aspects of the UN plan (that were mostly of British inspiration), the two sides must come back with reworked proposals for a settlement so as to show that the Annan plan is not dead. Rather, it failed because it contained a set of biased – if not flatly unacceptable – provisions and bargaining can proceed on these points alone. With that goal in mind, Nicosia and Athens must push for a renegotiation of the points about which Papadopoulos raised his main institutional and legal objections, and propose specific political solutions. Greeks and Greek Cypriots must make use of Turkey’s European aspirations and demonstrate their genuine desire for peaceful coexistence. It is worth repeating that such an energetic, imaginative and inventive policy requires unity between Nicosia and Athens and between all the big political parties in Greece and Cyprus. Our goals are peaceful and just. We must promote them by setting up a strong and united front.

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