OPINION

Case not closed

There was a time when enthusiasm and patriotism were not seen as an anachronism and the Greek Cypriots’ passion for a union with the motherland shook Greece’s political system which, exhausted from war, was unable to deal with the revolutionary momentum. As a result, instead of a union with Greece, the Cypriots got a never-before-seen form of independence (in 1960) with guarantor powers and no right to self-rule. When (the elder) George Papandreou, assisted by the US, revived the demand for union, the Acheson plan was finally torpedoed by Nicosia and Athens. Cyprus remained divided and continued interference by the so-called «national center» in the island’s domestic affairs, which culminated in the 1974 coup against Makarios, gave Turkey a pretext for invading the island. Cyprus remained a Turkish hostage until 1994 saw the beginning of an attempt to overcome the deadlock via the EU. The objective was to render Cyprus an EU candidate member. A solution, it was believed, would then have to be in line with the acquis communautaire, hence the Greek-Cypriot administration gave – official and unofficial – assurances that it would not raise any obstacles. It is extremely interesting that Washington played a decisive role in bending the resistance of various states – of France in particular. US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke managed to convince Paris a day before a visit there of Greece’s late Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis, in the early months of 1995. At that time, a draft solution was being considered that was based on the ideas of former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Thanks to painstaking efforts by British Cyprus envoy Sir David Hannay – later a lord – the text evolved into the most recent blueprint known as the Annan plan. The plan drafted by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which the Greek Cypriots rejected in a referendum on Saturday, foresaw an odd settlement that was out of sync with European principles and the acquis communautaire. Former Socialist Prime Minister Costas Simitis handled Cyprus’s European adventure. In an article in the Ta Nea daily on Friday, a day before the twin referenda on the island, Simitis argued that a «no» vote to the UN plan would downgrade the Cyprus issue into a bilateral dispute between Greece and Turkey. Simitis has the typical syndrome that haunts every person who thinks that the end of his personal career also means the end of the world and we are heading for a disaster because things are not turning out the way he thought necessary. However, contrary to Simitis’s views, European leaders are pragmatic and reasonable persons and it is highly unlikely that they will allow Cyprus’s division to be perpetuated into the indefinite future. A more workable solution will probably be accepted in the future. As a Europhile, Simitis ought to know that the case of Cyprus was not closed on April 24. Rather, it will be examined on a more solid basis as of May 1 when the Republic of Cyprus becomes a full EU member.