Moment of truth

The presentation today of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s plan for a solution to the Cyprus dispute is the most crucial turning point in the history of the issue – and, by extension, the most crucial turning point in the entire spectrum of Greek-Turkish relations since the tragic events of the summer of 1974. The Europeans and the Americans, although coming from different starting points – the former due to the scheduled expansion of the European Union, the latter due to the looming showdown on Iraq – both share the same goal of reaching a political settlement to the Cyprus issue before the Copenhagen summit in December. This fact puts suffocating pressure on Athens, Ankara and Nicosia, where hopes of a viable solution meet the fears of a potential waste of an historic opportunity. As yet, little is known about the content of the UN plan, which was drawn up by British and American officials. However, one certainty is that the Greek and Turkish political elites will be faced with historic dilemmas. And as the Greek intellectual giant Adamantios Korais used to say, «it is national that which is true,» we must tackle the objective truth, putting aside sentiment and national obsessions. For Greece it is an unfortunate, albeit undeniable, truth that diplomacy alone cannot alleviate the repercussions of a military conflict. Turkey, for its part, has to realize that it cannot blackmail the international community with the aim of legitimizing its illegal occupation of the northern Cypriot territory without paying the price of becoming a pariah state of Europe and the Western world. Hence, the settlement of the Cyprus issue will not be a return to the pre-1974 status quo nor a perpetuation of the current de facto division, but rather a difficult historic compromise on both sides in the direction of a new and viable Cypriot Republic which will be in line with the acquis communautaire of the union in which Greece is a member and which Turkey seeks to join. The crucial and, perhaps, painful decision that Greece will be called upon to take should not be affected or hindered by partisan or, even worse, party objectives which have damaged our national interest in the past, such as the Imia crisis and the case of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan. It remains to be seen whether we have learned from past mistakes.

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