OPINION

Pragmatic turn

The joint statement released by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos after their meeting in Paris indicates the international community has finally realized that any peace settlement for the island must take Greek-Cypriot interests into consideration. The new round of negotiations will not refer to the rejected Annan blueprint and will include no pressing deadlines. Rather, it will include more of the EU and exclude Britain, whose involvement proved blatantly biased. Papadopoulos, who came out against the plan, was vindicated as the referendum’s outcome did not entail the national catastrophe that some had predicted. The Republic of Cyprus entered the Union as a full member and, despite earlier warnings, Annan is again working on a more viable reunification plan. The Cypriot president braved the fierce attacks and showed his political acumen. He did not rush to «seize the day» – the «last opportunity,» as some people in Athens and Nicosia had put it. In fact, the Greek political system appears to suffer from a seize-the-day syndrome. Politicians are often keen to follow the diplomatic recommendations of our foreign allies, sometimes without weighing up the implications of their actions. A sort of Venizelos syndrome now also dominates the conservative party. All sorts of reformists across the left-right spectrum accuse the «nationalists» of fanaticism and ideological rigidity. But these were exactly the characteristics the same people displayed in their defense of the Annan plan, a plan that is history even for Annan, who made no mention of it in the joint statement. Papadopoulos turned out to be the real pragmatist. So far he has secured a healthier basis for relaunched negotiations and he stubbornly refused to «seize» any opportunity for a solution that would render Cyprus a political oddity internationally.