NEWS

Cypriot leader digs in

Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos yesterday expressed confidence that Greece will continue to support «the agreed line on the Cyprus issue» notwithstanding the appointment of Dora Bakoyannis as new foreign minister. In an interview published in the Sunday edition of Ethnos newspaper, Papadopoulos criticized the previous, Socialist, government of accepting the mediation of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in February 2004 even though the latter had, according to Papadopoulos, caved in to almost all demands made by the Turkish side. Papadopoulos added that he had no problem with Bakoyannis becoming foreign minister as long as Greek PM Costas Karamanlis sticks «with his declarations,» that is, that he would support the Cypriot government’s position whatever that was. Bakoyannis’s appointment has been greeted with skepticism in Cyprus, because she had openly endorsed the so-called «Annan Plan» calling for the reunification of the divided island of Cyprus, in which the majority Greek-Cypriot and minority Turkish-Cypriot communities would co-govern on an equal footing. Greek-Cypriot refugees from the Turkish-occupied north would be able to settle back only after a long transitional period. Greek Cypriots rejected the Annan Plan in a referendum in April 2004, while Turkish Cypriots approved it. The Annan Plan had also been endorsed by both major Greek parties, but Karamanlis’s New Democracy government made little effort to persuade Papadopoulos to change his mind. Many Greek Cypriots fear that Bakoyannis will echo the views of her father, former PM Constantine Mitsotakis, who has been openly critical of Papadopoulos. They also point to Bakoyannis’s close contacts with the US Bush administration, which has been pushing for the revival of the Annan Plan. Papadopoulos said he will neither accept any version of the Annan Plan nor put to a referendum any proposal not endorsed by himself.