OPINION

Letter to the Editor

As an outside observer of the Cyprus problem since the EOKA struggle in the mid-1950s, I was astonished by the presidential election results on Sunday, February 17, where a little over 68 percent of the Greek Cypriots voted against the incumbent Tassos Papadopoulos. There was really only one issue uppermost in the minds of the voters, that is, the Cyprus problem. It is very obvious from the results of the first round that the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriots repudiated and rejected the way Papadopoulos has handled the Cyprus problem during his five-year tenure as president. Four years ago, the Greek Cypriots, listening to a sobbing President Papadopoulos on national television urging them to reject the UN Annan Plan to reconcile the divided island, followed his advice and 75 percent voted against the plan and put their trust and faith in him to work out a better solution. Unfortunately, no better solution has been achieved during Papadopoulos’s tenure, and the Turkish-Cypriot side is getting moral and substantive economic support from the European Union and the United States, and not necessarily through the internationally recognized Cyprus government channels. I wonder if the Annan Plan had been also accepted by the Greek-Cypriot side at what stage the withdrawal of Turkish troops and Turkish settlers, and the return of the refugees, would be now? Another question that comes to mind is what message do these election results send to the Greek Cypriots living abroad, who tend to be «more Catholic than the Pope,» when it comes to national issues, and will they change their way of thinking now? In 1974, there was a coup d’etat staged by the Greek junta against the president, Archbishop Makarios, followed by an invasion of the island by Turkey. History teaches us when there is a war, the only way the losing side can recoup its losses is by conducting another armed struggle, and if this is not an option, it must negotiate a settlement in which the loser never gets back everything lost. It is unfortunate that the United Nations has no means or desire to enforce its resolutions on Cyprus, and the induction of Cyprus into the European Union and Turkey’s application for EU membership have not produced the anticipated results that the Greek Cypriots had expected. In the real world «the Rule of Law» is only applicable or pertinent when the interests of the big powers are involved. Since no one candidate received 50 percent of the votes on February 17, the second round is scheduled for this Sunday, February 24, to elect either [Ioannis] Kassoulides or [Dimitris] Christofias. However, the important question that remains to be answered in the next few days is: What concessions, if any, in their positions are these two candidates willing to make to get Papadopoulos’s party endorsement? If they do make concessions, what will be the reaction of the voters? ANDONIS NEROULIAS, New York, USA.