“ATHENS has abandoned Cyprus,” declared Solidarity leader Eleni Theocharous in an interview with Phileleftheros, pointing out that it was trying to abolish the only remaining legal obligation – the Treaty of Guarantee. This did not mean she was against the abolition of the guarantees, but she mentioned this to highlight the Greek state’s indifference.
According to Theocharous the Greek state “feels it has no national obligations, neither moral nor substantive towards Cypriot Hellenism,” and “does not even understand its own interests.” She failed to elaborate and enlighten readers as to what these national and moral obligations actually were. Did they involve barring President Anastasiades from going to Geneva, preventing him from signing an agreement or issuing a troop withdrawal ultimatum to Turkey?
Theocharous has always spoken more like a poet than a politician and is interested in the big abstract ideas rather than the practical details of politics. Perhaps she is not aware of the predicament of the Greek state – bankrupt, in disarray and totally dependent on international lenders. It is in no position to fulfil any obligations, practical or poetic. She also ignores the fact that since 1974, successive Greek governments have fully supported the efforts to reach a settlement, because they considered this to be in their interest.
There had been great hopes among the rejectionists that Alexis Tsipras’ government had broken with this tradition, when a few weeks ago Greece’s foreign minister Nicos Kotzias declared that Greece would not attend an international conference if Turkey did not agree, in advance, to abolish the system of guarantees. All the rejectionist parties welcomed this stance, praised Greece for its principled position that could derail the whole peace process and called for closer co-operation between Athens and Nicosia.
Several meetings between Anastasiades and Tsipras after this appeared to have led Greece to lift its condition for participating in the Geneva conference. Meetings by Akel chief Andros Kyprianou in Athens with Tsipras may also have contributed. Last Friday Anastasiades had a three-hour meeting with Tsipras in Athens after which the Cyprus government spokesman announced “absolute” understanding between the two leaders on issues of substance and procedure and said they had agreed on joint initiatives.
The opposition calls for closer co-operation had indeed been heeded, even though the outcome is unlikely to have been the one they desired. There was no mention of red lines that would threaten the process. It would appear that Athens and Nicosia had agreed on a plan and a joint strategy for the Geneva conference, which was a positive stop. Perhaps, what Theocharous meant by saying that “Athens has abandoned Cyprus,” was that the Tsipras government was backing the settlement efforts, as all its predecessors had done.