The Socialists’ binding legacy

The Socialists’ lack of moderation and an excess of political audacity in criticizing the government’s handling of foreign policy matters has been a shock to the unbiased observer. To be sure, not everyone agrees with all the conservative administration’s foreign policy decisions. Public criticism is one thing but the blatant – often bordering on the provocative – attempt by the garrulous former Socialist ministers to come across as the unyielding censors of government decisions on the Cyprus issue, EU-Turkish relations or the Skopje name dispute, is quite another. PASOK cadres are only kidding themselves if they think that Greek voters have forgotten that the suffocating framework currently weighing down the government’s foreign policy is a legacy of the Socialist party. It makes one wonder how PASOK officials dare attack the government on the FYROM name dispute when people still have fresh memories of the US envoy reading out the infamous «interim agreement» on Skopje in the garden of the prime minister’s private residence – with Andreas Papandreou and his foreign ministry officials standing speechless behind him as the drama unfolded. People have not forgotten the anxious and stubborn support by Socialist leader George Papandreou for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s peace plan for Cyprus and the political blow he suffered when 76 percent of Greek Cypriots rejected the blueprint in a national referendum. In fact, the plan was embraced by Ankara and the Turkish Cypriots. Greeks are not lotus-eaters. They recall that it took less than three months for former prime minister Costas Simitis and his foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos after the humiliating Imia crisis (and after Turkey had come up with its gray zone theory) to inaugurate, during a visit to Washington, in fact, their so-called «step-by-step rapprochement» with Ankara. It is a policy whose implementation by the Simitis administrations has failed to mitigate Turkish aggressiveness and, in truth, opened the EU gates to Turkey. In light of this, the content and the style of PASOK’s opposition criticism can only be interpreted as an affront to common sense.