FM wants European approach to Cyprus

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis yesterday heralded a new plan for the reunification of Cyprus that would place greater emphasis upon the divided island’s association with the European Union. But the new Cypriot Foreign Minister Giorgos Lillikas swiftly rebuffed the idea, stressing that Nicosia had not been informed of any such plan. In an interview with Sunday’s Eleftherotypia newspaper, Bakoyannis proposed a «plan for a unified European Cyprus» as an alternative to a United Nations-backed blueprint rejected by Greek Cypriots in 2004. Bakoyannis and Lillikas are to meet in Athens on Thursday. Meanwhile, former premier Costas Simitis added fuel to the debate about whether Greece should exploit its right to extend its territorial waters in the Aegean by proposing a «partial and selective extension.» By extending its waters up to 12 nautical miles in some places and up to 6, 8 or 10 nautical miles in others, Greece would ensure freedom of navigation for vessels from all states and gain these countries’ backing in its dispute with Turkey, Simitis told yesterday’s Ethnos newspaper. Also yesterday, the Foreign Ministry dismissed comments by former Turkish foreign minister Yasar Yakis upon a visit to the Muslim minority of Thrace that locals should take complaints with the Greek state to a European Court. «(Yakis’s) rhetoric is unrealistic,» the ministry said. «As a modern democracy, (Greece) enforces a policy of equality for all Greeks regardless of their religion, who do not need unsolicited advocates,» it said.

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