NEWS

Cyprus issue is still open, Simitis says

The Cyprus issue remains open and is Greece’s top foreign policy priority, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said yesterday in his most extensive comments on the issue since UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced the failure of his effort to reunify the island last Tuesday. Addressing the Cabinet, Simitis warned Ankara and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash that the failure of the talks would have negative consequences for them. «It must be made clear to all that the other side’s tactics and aims will never be accepted,» Simitis said, according to government spokesman Christos Protopappas. «If Mr Denktash and certain people in Ankara think that they can make legitimate the fait accompli of the invasion of 1974 through continually making new and unacceptable demands, they are mistaken,» Simitis said. This was in reference to Denktash’s demand that the breakaway state he leads in northern Cyprus be granted international recognition. «I stress that the Cyprus issue remains open despite the failure of Mr Annan’s effort. Without a viable, functional solution within the acquis communautaire (of the EU) there is no future in Europe for Turkey,» Simitis said. Stressing that Athens would continue to support the leadership of the Republic of Cyprus, he added, «The Cyprus issue remains our top priority in foreign policy.» Meanwhile, opposition leader Costas Karamanlis accused Simitis of handling Cyprus policy «in a simplistic and experimental manner,» claiming the PM had overemphasized that the UN plan was the island’s last chance to unite in the face of international fatigue with the problem, and had leaned too heavily on the Cypriot government. «If the prime minister thought the international community was tired (of the Cyprus issue), instead of seeking to have the island’s division legalized he should have pointed out that the international community was obliged to pressure the perpetrator, and not the victim of the invasion,» the New Democracy chairman said. «If his choice of words was intended to pressure the Greek Cypriots and their leadership then he committed a serious impropriety.»