OPINION

High principles

New Democracy’s backing of Prime Minister Costas Simitis in view of today’s crucial meeting with US President George W. Bush, in which major national interests are at stake, was a model of an accurate and constructive political stance. Moreover, displaying a political ethos and responsibility unusual by Greek standards, the opposition party did not hesitate to flatly condemn the questionable CBS television program which suggested ruling PASOK officials were soft on terrorism, if not harboring it. The stance of ND leader Costas Karamanlis and his party is worthy of praise as it took place amid a poor political climate nourished by the ruling Socialist party and in particular by PASOK General Secretary Costas Laliotis, who has been attacking ND by employing highly controversial and politically anachronistic methods. Objectively speaking, the opposition was tempted, if not to try to exploit the orchestrated attack on the government then, at least, to keep silent and let the advocates of polarization cope on their own. The opposition opted in favor of putting the national interest before partisan objectives. Thereby, ND did a good service in helping to elevate the public dialogue. All citizens, regardless of their ideological convictions, would like to see PASOK adopt a similar attitude, especially on national issues. The year 2002 is expected to be a challenging one as regards our national issues. The government has to overcome its arrogant demeanor of handling major issues all by itself, and instead to genuinely encourage the active participation of the opposition with the aim of forming a common national front on such issues. No one is calling on the government to surrender a share of the power it has in order to map out and implement its policy as mandated by the public in the 2000 elections. And no one is trying to impose on it any binding joint decision-making processes that will include the opposition parties. However, adopting a genuine and in-depth consultation with the opposition on national issues would not impinge on government powers. ND’s display of a high-principled policy prepares the ground for a similar move by Simitis’s government. It remains to be seen whether the prime minister possesses the requisite political courage and prudence to take the same, crucial step.