OPINION

No automatic pilot

The act of adapting to the priorities and demands of Western powers can create major ethical dilemmas, but sometimes it yields benefits. This was the sort of dogma on which Costas Simitis’s government had established its foreign policy. Indeed, the fact that his policy systematically avoided making any objections created a positive climate, both with the USA and the European Union. As a result, both assumed that the «heretical» Athens of the 1980s had been transformed into an adaptable partner. A foreign policy which sets as its paramount criterion the protection of legitimate national interests should not become ensnared in pseudo-dilemmas – it should not be obliged to choose between adaptation and maximalism. Foreign policy cannot be exercised on automatic pilot. Each policy needs to be shaped on the basis of specific circumstances and on what is at stake. There is no doubt that the assurances of former PM Costas Simitis, former Foreign Minister George Papandreou and former Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides played a decisive role in convincing the Copenhagen summit to approve Cyprus’s EU accession. However, a «yes» vote at the April 24 referendum would have canceled many of the advantages of accession. So it is just as well that it was Costas Karamanlis, Petros Molyviatis and Tassos Papadopoulos in the driving seat this time. They had a different approach as they had made no commitments…