A chance to resolve stance on Turkey

This week’s visit to Athens by Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and his meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis mark a particularly significant point in Cyprus’s attempts to forge a common strategy ahead of crucial decisions scheduled for this fall regarding the progress of Turkey’s European Union bid. The talks between the two leaders were useful on a practical as well as symbolic level. The decision by Papadopoulos and Karamanlis to postpone until September any decision regarding Turkey’s stance opposite EU member Cyprus is practical in the sense that it will allow both sides to reassess the dynamics that by then will have played out between the European Commission and Turkey. On a symbolic level, it is significant that Karamanlis and Papadopoulos conducted their talks in a climate of mutual trust and openness, and that the bad feelings caused by the alleged criticism of the Cypriot president by New Democracy’s honorary chairman Constantine Mitsotakis was diffused. But the achievements of this week’s talks simply represent a milestone in the process of Athens and Nicosia achieving «total coordination» ahead of their final decisions regarding Turkey. Indeed, Monday’s talks could signal the beginning of a long effort to provide answers to many crucial questions, such as what stance Athens and Nicosia will take if the EU grants Turkey an extension to a deadline to open its ports and airports to Cyprus. And how will the Athens-Nicosia axis react if any attempt is made to link Turkey’s EU bid to new efforts to once more broach the Cyprus issue?