First steps for Bakoyannis

The statement by new Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis that the Annan plan for Cyprus «is history» is a good starting point. It does not, of course, undo the impression she gave before the Cyprus referendum on the reunification blueprint, but it will help improve the climate and outline Greece’s foreign policy aims in the search for a workable settlement. It is clear that when a fresh round of talks is launched, the UN secretary-general, or his successor, will try to incorporate aspects of the rejected plan into the new blueprint. Previous mediators have done so in the past. The difference now, however, is that the Republic of Cyprus is a full EU member and any solution must comply with its acquis communautaire, its body of accepted law. No EU state is subject to the monitoring of guarantor powers or a third country’s military presence – with the exception, of course, of NATO troops. And no EU state can be deprived of the three basic freedoms – freedom of movement, settlement and property. Cyprus cannot be an exception. Nor can any EU country be prevented from functioning as a unified state, which would be the case if the Annan plan were to come into force. All these issues, however, will be negotiated by the Cypriot government, and Athens has no desire to undermine the image and independence of Nicosia. So far, Bakoyannis has been seen primarily as an ally of her father, former conservative leader Constantine Mitsotakis, both as Athens mayor and as a key New Democracy player. She had the support of some New Democracy’s voters – but not everyone. As of last week, Bakoyannis has been in charge of a highly sensitive portfolio, foreign affairs, and she will be judged on her actions. Time will tell if Bakoyannis’s remarks were a public relations stunt. But so far she seems to have adopted a pragmatic stand, securing a working relationship with Nicosia.

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