Learning from past mistakes

Demagoguery and frivolity have once again marred the debate over the FYROM name dispute. The poor attitude was this time spewed by the formal announcement of the name proposal by United Nations special envoy and mediator Matthew Nimetz. Rather than taking advantage of Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis’s prompt briefing to weigh all parameters and hammer out a considered and clear position, some political cadres chose to unleash verbal vitriol on the government. No sooner had the political class in Skopje taken a stand on the Nimetz proposal than some politicians accused the conservative administration of backing down from Greece’s earlier positions. PASOK’s reaction was embarrassing, almost ludicrous. Notwithstanding that 10 years of Socialist administrations failed to lead to a single proposed solution, PASOK rushed to accuse the New Democracy government of having taken the situation to a worse point than where the Simitis administration left it. The Socialists finally have to take a responsible stand on an issue that has caused serious damage to Greece’s national interests. And we still have fresh memories of attempts to capitalize on the issue over a decade ago, which put a premature end to Constantine Mitsotakis’s administration, brought the return of Andreas Papandreou to power and the birth of the Political Spring party which, like a shooting star, stirred the waters of Greece’s political life but only briefly. Politicians’ self-interested objectives have taken a hefty toll on the country. Sixty-seven states have so far recognized FYROM by the name «the Republic of Macedonia,» worsening Athens’s efforts to reach a commonly accepted settlement that will save face. Greece’s political forces should join hands to turn things round. The irresponsibility of political leaders and the intransigence of the early ’90s deprived Greece of the chance to achieve a better solution than the ones that are on offer today. Now the same old demeanor means that we risk wasting another opportunity. Some politicians have failed miserably in learning from past mistakes.

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