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FACTDROP: Cyprus: Turkish envoy renews threat to break ties with EU


Cyprus: Turkish envoy renews threat to break ties with EU

The Turkish ambassador to the EU, Selim Kuneralp

Πηγή: adncronos
Oct 17 2011

Brussels, 17 Oct. (AKI) - The Turkish envoy to the European Union renewed a threat to break off ties with the EU over the the island of Cyprus and said a recent report on his country's progress toward possible membership in the EU is "disappointing, biased and unbalanced" adding that Ankara will won't give up in its bid to join the economic bloc.

"Ankara still needs Europe and Europe still needs Ankara," Selim Kuneralp said in an interview with Adnkronos.

The EU last week said Turkey should normalize relations with Cyprus in order to restart talks to gain membership in the European Union. In its annual progress report, the EU on 12 October praised Turkey for making economic progress but the European Commission said the country must improve freedom of expression and other rights in order for the talks to advance.

The talks have been stalled for about two years.

The EU tied the speed of the review for Turkey's membership on its full implementation of a customs-union agreement including Cyprus.

Turkey invaded the northern part of Cyprus in 1974 in response to a Greek-backed military coup on the Mediterranean island.

More recently, Turkish gas exploration near the island has caused tension and prompted Turkey to send a military ship alongside a Turkish ship exploring for natural gas. Turkey was responding to Greek Cypriot drilling off Cyprus' southern coast.

Turkey has also threatened to suspend ties with the EU if there is no resolution to the conflict by the time Cyrus takes on the rotating EU presidency next year.

The internationally-recognised Greek Cypriot government is due to take on the six-month rotating EU presidency in July 2012. Turkey does not recognize Greek Cyprus as a sovereign state.

"Ankara will have no relations" with the Cypriot presidency in the second half of 2012 if there is no agreement reached for the unification of the island," Kuneralp told Adnkronos.

"If the situation remains what it is, it is out of the question that we will have relations with the presidency of a country we don't recognize," he said.

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