No reciprocity

It can be awfully hard to get the feel of the Cyprus issue. News editors consider it a dull subject that doesn’t sell. On the other hand, it’s a very controversial issue: One wrong move can destroy a government. Over the years, Nicosia has got the hang of Greece’s domestic political game. Using threats or alliances, it has managed to build its own powerful lobbies here. The late Constantine Karamanlis felt the power of the Cyprus lobby in the 1950s as he negotiated the Zurich agreement, only to be stigmatized as a traitor later on. Andreas Papandreou was accused of shelving the Cyprus issue and was later forced into making his famous «mea culpa» statement. Thirty-three years on Greece’s political subconscious is still plagued by a collective guilt about the events of 1974. It matters little if Greece struggled to push Cyprus into the European Union or if it has kept its foreign policy tied to Cypriot interests. The guilt remains and it’s often taken advantage of. The relationship between Athens and Nicosia has never been a clear, straight affair. But recent events are of major concern. Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos does not hesitate to take initiatives such as Nicosia’s oil exploration plans without even bothering to notify Athens. The question, of course, is why Greece should always stand by Cyprus when Nicosia does not feel obliged to consult Athens on moves that impact on Greek interests. Papadopoulos has proven himself to be a tough player. He gets things where he wants them to be and his mind is focused solely upon his own ends. But he cannot afford to shun Greece, because that’s where he’ll turn when something goes wrong. Past deadlocks were overcome – as Athens and Nicosia knew that they would both lose out in the event of a serious crisis. Let’s hope that a rupture won’t occur this time, as a new crisis is in the offing.