NEWS

Nicosia rebuffs rumors of Greek rift

Nicosia yesterday played down press speculation about a possible rift with Athens after Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis referred to «a divergence of opinions as regards certain tactical moves.» The Cypriot government’s new spokesman Christodoulos Pasiardis and Foreign Minister Giorgos Lillikas said ties between Athens and Nicosia were excellent and that Bakoyannis’s comments, made in an interview with Sunday’s Eleftherotypia, had been misinterpreted. «There are no rifts, no ambiguity, no discord,» Pasiardis said. The divergence referred to «relates to certain tactics, not a common strategy,» he added. «I am afraid certain individuals are using press reports to promote wishful thinking that we are not willing to indulge,» Lillikas said. He described as «ridiculous» reports of a crisis in ties between Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. Both Athens and Nicosia played down Bakoyannis’s reference to a «plan for a unified European Cyprus.» «(Bakoyannis) did not say that a plan exists… but that one should be prepared that takes into account the fact that Cyprus is part of the EU,» Lillikas said. Greek deputy government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said Bakoyannis had called for “a plan that would… aim for the obvious: a united European Cyprus.» Meanwhile, Karamanlis discussed Greek-Turkish relations with President Karolos Papoulias before calling for Turkey to live up to its EU obligations.