Athens mulls EU plan for Cyprus

Athens is reportedly giving cautious consideration to a proposal being drafted by the European Union’s Finnish presidency to persuade Turkey to respect its obligations as an EU candidate state, including the recognition of Cyprus. Diplomatic sources have told Kathimerini that Athens is pondering a European proposal, according to which the Turkish Cypriots would be permitted to conduct EU-monitored trade via the port of Famagusta, in northern Cyprus, if Ankara opens «some» Turkish harbors and airports to Cypriot vessels and aircraft. One diplomatic source maintained that reopening Famagusta, virtually deserted since Turkey’s 1974 invasion of the island, could boost cooperation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. But the chief concern of Greek diplomats is said to be the number – and location – of ports that Ankara would be willing to open. There are fears that Ankara would only grant access to a few Black Sea ports. Meanwhile, according to sources in Brussels, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis has confronted NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer about a document in which a high-ranking alliance aide allegedly resuscitates the pro-Turkish stance of Joseph Luns, who was NATO chief when Turkey invaded Cyprus. Luns had called for Lemnos and other Greek islands close to Turkey to be demilitarized. According to sources, Scheffer indicated that the above stance is shared by NATO’s political leadership.