Critical rendezvous of Papandreou July 5, 2010Posted by Yilan in Cyprus, Yunanistan.
Tags: Cyprus, Greek, KKTC, Papandreou, Talat
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, on an official visit to the southern Greek Cypriot side of the island had a critical rendezvous yesterday with political party leaders to determine a “common national policy” on steps to be taken in the peace talks with the Turkish Cypriot side going to a landmark presidential poll this Sunday which may replace the socialist, pro-federal settlement incumbent President Mehmet Ali Talat with a conservative, Dr. Derviş Eroğlu, the current prime minister, who is also committed to the peace process, has been advocating a confederal solution to the 47-year-old problem of power sharing between the two sides of this eastern Mediterranean island.
Papandreou entered yesterday’s meeting with a clear message, “We are moving decidedly and we shall not tire of laboring on a viable solution for the Cyprus problem. We are also committed to stay by the side of the leaders of the Republic of Cyprus and the [Greek] Cypriot people, in actions and not just in words.” Yet, he was expected to confront at the meeting with a set of sharp differences between Greek Cypriot President Demetris Christofias and his AKEL party and the rest of the parties represented in the House of Representatives on some core aspects of the peace talks, as well as how Christofias has been leading the process.
For example, excluding the AKEL party, all other Greek Cypriot parties, disagree completely with the “rotation of presidency” in the future federal republic between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot “constituent elements” and the permanent stay on the island of some 50,000 mainland Turkish settlers as citizens of the new federal state.
Similarly, the “cross voting” or “weighted vote” scheme – according to which Greek Cypriots will have a 20 percent say over the outcome of the leadership elections in a Turkish Cypriot state, and vice versa – is opposed by all Greek Cypriot parties, excluding AKEL, on grounds that the proposal was an attempt to keep the socialists in power both in north and south. Interesting enough, conservative parties in the north are opposing the proposal along the very same lines, as well as from the perspective that through such an exercise of “nation building” for the first time in their history Turkish Cypriots would not be able to solely decide who should be their leader. Christofias, however, has been stressing that cross voting was a must and should there be rotation of presidency in the future federation between the two peoples on grounds that irrespective whether s/he is a Greek or a Turk, a president should come to office with votes of both two communities of the island.
Naturally, high on the agenda of the talks of Papandreou with Greek Cypriot leaders was the moves in the European Union to find ways of implementing the so-called direct trade regulation which would allow Turkish Cypriots use their airports and ports in exporting goods to the EU. Direct trade of the north with the EU was blocked effectively by the Greek Cypriot side ever since their May 1, 2004 EU membership, just a week after they buried in simultaneous referenda, despite overwhelming approval from the Turkish Cypriots, a U.N.-sponsored peace plan. In the 2004 U.N. peace plan process Papandreou was strongly supportive of the settlement, but weeks before the twin referenda on the island he lost elections and consequently Greek Cypriots killed that plan.
According to reports in the Greek Cypriot media, Papandreou has already warned the Christofias administration that he should be prepared to see a changed attitude in the EU toward the Greek Cypriot state and its persistent tactics aimed at stalling Turkey’s EU accession process. Furthermore, because of the rampant economic difficulties, it is a fact that Greece has been weakened both within the EU as well as internationally and as vulnerable as it is, Greece might not be able to be ready to stand with the Greek Cypriot caprices in the EU.
Naturally, high on the agenda of Papandreou with Greek Cypriot leaders was what policies the Greek Cypriot side should adhere if Sunday’s elections bring Eroğlu to presidency and the Turkish Cypriot side start to emphasize more strongly the demand that the new federation must derive its sovereignty from the two constituent sovereign states, which even after establishment of the federation retain with themselves some residual sovereign powers?
What Papandreou discussed on the Greek Cypriot side will become clearer within days.