Turkish Govt Threatens EU with 'Freeze' over Cyprus

Bulgaria in EU | September 18, 2011, Sunday // 15:23|  views

Photo from cyprusupdates.com

EU candidate Turkey has threatened to freeze its relations with the Union if Cyprus is allowed to take over the EU Presidency as scheduled, in 2012.

The ultimatum was issued by Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay on Sunday, as cited by the state-owned Anatolian news agency, in what could become the start of a crisis in EU-Turkey relations over the unresolved issues between Turkey and the Republic of Cyrpus, an EU member.

"If the peace negotiations there (Cyprus) are not conclusive, and the EU gives its rotating presidency to southern Cyprus, the real crisis will be between Turkey and the EU," Anatolian quoted Atalay as telling Turkish Cypriot Bayrak Radio and TV at the end of a trip to northern Cyprus.

"Because we will then freeze our relations with the EU. We have made this announcement, as a government we have made this decision. Our relations with the EU will come to a sudden halt," he said.

The comments also come at a time of heightened tension in the eastern Mediterranean where Turkey is locked in a row with Cyprus over potential offshore gas deposits. Turkey's relations with one-time ally Israel are also at a low.

After aspiring for European Community membership since the 1960s, Turkey began talks for EU accession in 2005. However, of the 35 "chapters" Turkey has completed one, and 18 have been frozen because of opposition by EU member states such as Cyprus and France.

Cyprus has been divided since a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. UN-sponsored peace talks between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots have stumbled since they were relaunched in 2008.

The internationally-recognized Greek Cypriot government is due to take on the six-month rotating EU presidency in July 2012. Cyprus has already been including in the EU Presidency "trio" together with Poland and Denmark, and is due to take over the rotating EU chairmanship for the second half of 2012.

Greek Cypriots represent the island internationally and in the European Union, while Turkey is the only country to recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

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Tags: turkey, Turkey EU membership, Turkey in EU, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Cyprus, EU, EU presidency, Besir Atalay, Israel, EU membership, accession negotiations


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