Three statements

Isolated remarks can be merely thoughtless; but more than one can make a political pattern. Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis said openly that discussion of Turkey lifting its veto over Cyprus’s membership in international organizations is meaningless because Cyprus is not going to ask to join NATO. His attempt to support in public what is now the accepted line may be understandable, but there are still limits. The lowliest diplomatic attache would not dream of stating something so politically and logically feeble. The fact that Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has reservations about NATO does not make removal of the Turkish veto any less urgent. First, Cyprus might change its mind. Second, Ankara has also excluded Cyprus from 20 other international organizations that Nicosia wants to join. Finally, countries in the process of joining should lift restrictions against another member state as a matter of principle. This follows Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s statement to CNN that Greece would not exercise its veto. This essentially threw away Greece’s best negotiating card at a critical stage of negotiations. And in early September, Molyviatis stated that Greece’s main objectives had been included in the British presidency’s second draft of the counter-declaration. Yet it makes no sense, just when you are asking for changes, to say your objectives have been met. It is a classic case of underplaying one’s hand. Karamanlis and Molyviatis are not naive, nor were their statements made by chance. They deliberately set the bar low in the belief that Turkey’s entry into the accession process is to Greece’s long-term benefit. But they should not have made our neighbor’s goal our national concern and advertised it to both Washington and Ankara.