NEWS

Nicosia has hopes for Erdogan

The foreign ministers of Greece and Cyprus yesterday agreed that the re-election of Turkey’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) could trigger fresh peace talks on the island. But Nicosia expressed fears about the strong return of Turkey’s nationalists to parliament. «The fact that Turkey has a stable government with strong public support is positive,» said Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis after talks with her visiting Cypriot counterpart Erato Kozakou-Markoullis. Bakoyannis welcomed pledges by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to boost EU-oriented reforms, adding «but we are waiting for tangible proof and action.» Markoullis, visiting Athens after her appointment last week, said Erdogan’s re-election was «a significant step toward securing the progress of reforms.» «What will count is how successful (Erdogan) will be in reducing the military’s role in politics,» she added. Markoullis said she hoped Erdogan will be «more constructive» in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem. But Markoullis said strong gains by Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) were worrying. «It is a party with a negative tradition on national issues and the Cyprus issue specifically.» In a related development, the Turkish newspaper Aksam yesterday reported that a group of far-right ex army officers had been arrested for allegedly planning the murder of Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios. The group was broken up last month after police discovered guns and explosives in a shed in Istanbul and then, in the suspects’ homes, documents ostensibly detailing the plans to assassinate Vartholomaios and Armenian Patriarch Mesrob, among others.