Wild swings

Which of the two was Iakovos? A CIA agent or a major national and religious leader? Both descriptions, however incompatible, have been used to profile the recently deceased former leader of the Orthodox Church in the Americas. The fact that the same people who once maligned Iakovos are now lauding his character and contribution to Greece does no credit to the late archbishop and compromises the politicians who once criticised him. It is reasonable that these critics could change their minds over the course of 20 or 30 years. But what can be said of a politician who has made a U-turn almost overnight? PASOK’s wild swings in foreign and domestic policy are a particularly strong example of sudden position shifting. On hearing George Papandreou’s attacks on privatizations and other ostensibly insensitive policies adopted by the conservative government, one cannot help but wonder whether New Democracy came to power following eight years of neo-liberal governance under Costas Simitis, or after a period of Socialist rule by Andreas Papandreou. PASOK’s hardline, reflexive response to the conservative handling of the FYROM name issue is deeply embarrassing. As foreign ministers, Papandreou and Theodoros Pangalos largely shaped Greek foreign policy over the past eight years. Their stand was not as unyielding as they would now have it. It seems that the traditional zeibekiko dance was not the only tune Papandreou danced to. On Monday, former Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem said that under the Madrid agreement signed by Simitis and Pangalos, Ankara pledged to refrain from the use of violence. But that comes after a Greek pledge to refrain from any unilateral action. In other words, a Turkish decision to ditch the «casus belli» policy will change little as Greece had already signed a deal not to extend its territorial waters.

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