A clear decision for Simitis

One does not have to study every little detail of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s blueprint for Cyprus to see that the proposed solution involves a state with limited sovereignty; a self-governed state that is, however, to be run by a complex, consensual system which would be overseen by three powers. The most interesting part is that Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s government and the conservative opposition deem that the plan is a «starting point» and «basis» for negotiations. Greece, in effect, accepts from the outset that Cyprus could soon be a country that would be independent only on paper and would have the characteristics of a special protectorate state whose establishment aims (under Greece’s guarantee) to satisfy Turkey’s plans for partition and Greece’s federal aspirations, while at the same time promoting Cyprus’s EU membership. Athens is happy to rid itself of a big problem on the eve of EU decisions for enlargement and is ducking the much more acute future risks posed by an unviable state like the one in the proposed settlement. Given the way things have turned out, Nicosia and Athens cannot reject the UN plan. Besides, they accepted the basic elements of the plan behind the scenes long before it was presented. Most crucially, the Greek side was led into making a major political decision which not only entails a big compromise but a dangerous one as well. The decision is clear: Annan’s document has no obscure clauses and the Greek political elite will never be able to claim that it was set up by third parties or that it had a different understanding from its foreign interlocutors before the proposal was drawn up. Formally, Nicosia may have the first say about the final agreement but everyone in Greece and Cyprus knows that it is the Greek State that plays the leading role.