Saturday, October 23, 2004


Gul: The non-choice negotiator

Mehmet Ali Birand has a rather amusing piece on who should be the negotiator when "the condition of our condition" talks start on December 17. It is amusing if only for its lack of depth. One would be inclined to think that when doing an analysis on possible negotiators, one should first establish a set of possible candidates. In fact, the only alternative to Birand's main choice is Kemal Dervis, at least according to Birand. Everyone knew though that Dervis (a political innocent and ex-IMF economist) was scratched off a while ago. Gul, our current foreign minister, seems like the only possibility; anyone else were things to go bad could be easily made a scapegoat. The man's greatest assest is his ability to casually put down occasional nationalistic or status quo arguments that bubble forth from some corners (as he had done when the Annan Plan for Cyprus was put on the table) without denting his credibility. Although he does have his occasional gaffs, his English is not embarrassingly bad (Does anyone remember that god-awful CNN international interview with Mesut Yilmaz? The guy didn't bring a translator and resorted to repeating one answer for dozens of unrelated questions). Birand, as usual, shies away from presenting something that is little known about the negotiations or Gul. (He even begins is article "As usual in our impatience...", see "Penal Code" post below for Birand's patience theme.)


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