Confusion and defeatism

According to a recent GPO poll, the majority of Greeks approve of former president Costis Stephanopoulos’s proposal to take bilateral disputes with Turkey to the International Court of Justice in the Hague. At the same time, most people accuse the government of making concessions to Ankara. The contradiction is clear: Going to court – an idea the government met with skepticism when it was offered by the Socialists – would be a concession to our eastern neighbor. The paradox arises from the erroneous tendency of political parties to exploit national issues for politically expedient objectives. Stephanopoulos has reasons to be concerned with the overwhelming approval of his proposal. In his response to criticism of his first article in Kathimerini, Stephanopoulos admitted that there still remain issues that must be worked out before a decision is made and added that his suggestion should be used as a launch pad for a wider discussion. But why did Stephanopoulos make his proposal in public instead of privately contacting politicians and political parties? A possible explanation, offered here last week, is that he expected his remarks to cause a fuss in Turkey, not at home. In fact, the opposite happened. Turkish politicians remained calm and restrained and snubbed Stephanopoulos’s proposal as their Greek counterparts exchanged barbs and accusations. The problem is not that GPO asked ordinary citizens whether they agreed with Stephanopoulos’s suggestion. Nor is it that respondents backed the Hague card despite their poor knowledge of the issue. The real culprits are those who play political games at the cost of our national interests. They are responsible for people’s confusion, insecurity and defeatism when it comes to dealing with Greece’s national issues.

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