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Turkey stands firm on Cyprus problem October 5, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied, Politics.
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Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said that Ankara is ‘determined’ on its Cyprus stance.

Turkey will continue to refuse trade privileges to Cyprus unless the EU eases the economic isolation of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said yesterday.

“We will maintain our determined position on this issue,” Babacan, during a one-day visit to the Turkish-occupied and military controlled north area of the Republic of Cyprus, told reporters after talks with Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. “No one should expect unilateral steps from Turkey, there will be no such steps,” he said.

Last year, the EU froze accession talks with Turkey in eight of the 35 policy areas that candidates must negotiate in response to Ankara’s refusal to allow Greek-Cypriot vessels to use its sea and air ports under a customs union pact with the bloc.

Ankara counters that the European Union has failed to keep pledges of easing the economic isolation by channeling aid to the Turkish-occupied and military controlled north area of Cyprus, which is recognized only by Turkey.

The EU made the promises in April 2004 as a reward to the “yes” vote that Turkish Cypriots gave to a UN-drafted peace plan to end Cyprus’s longstanding partition. The plan was killed off by a resounding “no” at a simultaneous referendum on the Greek-Cypriot side, whose community outnumbers the Turkish Cypriots three or four to one and which represents the internationally recognized government of the island. The outcome led to the Greek Cypriots alone joining the EU in May 2004.

“It is unfair to create difficulties for and make extra demands from the party which favors a settlement while rewarding the party opposed to a settlement,” Babacan argued. “We expect the international community to end the discrimination and isolation of the Turkish-Cypriot people,” he said.

Turkey accuses the Greek Cypriots of using their veto power in the EU to block the EU from delivering its promises to the Turkish-occupied and military controlled north and snag progress in Ankara’s own membership bid to extract concessions on Cyprus.

Babacan said Ankara continues to favor the island’s reunification within a bizonal federation based on political equality between the Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot communities. “It is a futile dream to expect the Turks to give up this and agree to living in the island as a minority,” he said.

The Cyprus government has said it was lodging protests with the United Nations and the EU over what it termed an “illegal” visit last month by Turkish President Abdullah Gul and his remarks about a religious divide on the island.

Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines since July 1974 when Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus and occupied its northern third with the stated aim of protecting Turkish Cypriots in the wake of an Athens-engineered coup in Nicosia aimed at uniting the island with Greece.

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