IT IS VERY difficult to say what prompted DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos to make such a big issue of the European Commission’s proposed lifting of the visa requirements for Turkish nationals. Are opinion polls forecasting that his party’s share of the votes would be low in the elections and he resorted to some old-fashioned alarmism in order to rally support? Did he feel this was suitable issue for highlighting government weakness on matters of national interest, in comparison to his own party’s uncompromising stance? Does he enjoy confrontation so much that he would use any excuse to engage in it?
Whatever the motives, his outbursts of the last few days suggest that he lacks political judgment, perspective and the capacity for rational thought. They also indicated a basic ignorance with regard to how the EU operates. That he could blame the Anastasiades government, for a proposal prepared by the European Commission, over which it had no say, was beyond a joke. Anticipating the proposal, he said: “Questions are raised by the stance of the government on this matter: which are these 72 criteria (set for the lifting of the visa requirements), when were they decided, how were they defined by the European Commission and why had the DISY government agreed to these 72 criteria?”
Is Papadopoulos not aware that the Commission takes decisions without consulting national governments? Is he not aware that this is one of the main reasons many Britons want to leave the EU? Quite clearly not, or he would not have asked “why were these 72 criteria not discussed at the National Council?” He did not even bother to find out what these criteria were, speculating instead that these involved respect for the right to property and for basic human rights, before asking why the Commission believed Turkey had complied with these.
As if this rant were not ridiculous enough Papadopoulos also saw another danger emanating from the Commission’s “totally wrong and provocative” proposal. It would allow “70 million Turks to move freely in Cyprus “with preferential treatment”. We are to believe that 70 million Turks were waiting for the lifting of the visa requirements so they could visit the Republic en masse. Yesterday he corrected this point on a radio show by saying there were 80 – not 70 – million Turks ready to flood Cyprus.
This nonsense may be taken seriously by a few ignorant voters, but it would also lead to a lot more voters not taking Papadopoulos seriously. He will have nobody but himself to blame for this.