OPINION

Without a safety net

Dora Bakoyannis has finally been brought into the Cabinet as the new foreign minister – to the exasperation of some and the relief of others. Some speculate that PM Costas Karamanlis made the decision under a lot of pressure, domestic as well as international. The opposite, however, seems more likely. Giving Bakoyannis the Foreign Affairs portfolio was more a sign of confidence rather than weakness. A highly mobile and ambitious politician outside the government is more likely to cause problems for a party leader than a minister who can be monitored. Now, for the first time in her political career, Bakoyannis will have to make do outside the protective cocoon of her family and Athens City Hall. The argument that she will constitute an independent pole to attract disgruntled conservative MPs does not hold. Nobody willingly commits suicide in politics – and Bakoyannis is well aware of that. The media-savvy Bakoyannis has often been loose-lipped in the past; she backed the Annan plan in spite of Tassos Papadopoulos’s urge to reject it. Certainly, the new foreign minister is free to disagree with 75 percent of Greek Cypriots on a major national issue. But from a psychological and political perspective, this is not an ideal starter. Papadopoulos expressed his certainty that «close and smooth cooperation will continue on the basis of the agreed policy of the Cyprus issue,» thus ruling out any improvisations by Bakoyannis. Speaking on the Cyprus issue, Karamanlis said, «We want a workable and viable solution, [one that is] compatible with European Union principles,» without making any mention of the Annan plan, which he obviously thought was not necessary. Karamanlis has responded to Bakoyannis’s pressing demands to take over at the Foreign Ministry. Now she will be judged by everyone, above all by the prime minister.