Lost opportunities syndrome

It would be no exaggeration to say that the positive reaction by Nicosia and Athens to the UN plan on Cyprus’s reunification is largely due to what the late New Democracy leader Evangelos Averoff referred to as the «lost opportunities» syndrome. Since 1964 we have seen many proposed solutions brokered by the international community. Each time, the terms of rapprochement were more unfavorable for the Greek side. Hence every time Athens or Nicosia rejected a plan, our political elite’s national guilt for the constant worsening of the Greek-Cypriot position. This sentiment has been reinforced by the belief that the gradual enfeeblement of the Greek-Cypriot position has been due more to the errors of the political elites in Athens and Nicosia than to the growing power of the Turkish-Cypriot side over the past four decades. The same applies to the West’s allegedly preferential treatment of Turkey, which we have often invoked to justify our own blunders or failures. The mistakes of the Greek Cypriots could be attributed to two factors. First, the Cyprus issue has always been a focal point of party confrontation in Greece as well as Cyprus. Hence, there was never a steady course or unified political front on the issue, while the opposition always denounced any attempt for compromise as national betrayal. Second, in every negotiation, Athens and Nicosia always put forward the tangible and immediate result, downgrading the time factor – namely, the fact that every deal is tested and readapted over time. This is of major significance for the stronger side, in this case the Greek Cypriots. Greek reactions to the UN plan up until now demonstrate that parties have been reluctant to succumb to political expediency. It is hoped that those who will be called to sign and ratify the agreement understand the distinction between short-term political benefit and long-term national interest.