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EU Urges Turkey to Normalize Relations With Cyprus

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton (R) and EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Füle talk during a press conference in Istanbul, Turkey, after the Turkey-EU Ministerial Political Dialogue meeting
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton (R) and EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Füle talk during a press conference in Istanbul, Turkey, after the Turkey-EU Ministerial Political Dialogue meeting

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In its annual progress report on countries aspiring to join the bloc, the European Union chided Ankara for failing - for another year - to normalize relations with EU member Cyprus.

The European Union said Turkey must normalize relations with Cyprus if it is to realize its ambition to join the powerful bloc. Turkey still refuses to open ports and airports to Greek Cypriot air and sea traffic, or officially recognize the Republic of Cyprus.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle made his comments as he presented the first EU enlargement package of the current commission.

"Turkey has continued its particular reform process in particular the reform of its constitution," said Füle. "But no one can be satisfied with the current pace of negotiations and let me quote, 'it is now urgent that Turkey fulfills its obligation of full non-discriminatory implementation of the additional protocol to the association agreement an makes progress toward normalization of bilateral relations with the Republic of Cyprus'."

In a related development, Britain's former foreign minister this week has caused outrage in the Greek Cypriot sector of Cyprus after suggesting partition of the island should be considered.

Jack Straw said that if Greek and Turkish leaders in Cyprus can not sort out their differences next week at U.N. talks in New York, then Britain should consider the partition of Cyprus.

Straw also accused Greek Cypriot Cyprus of using stall tactics in Turkey's accession talks.

"Greek Cypriot Cyprus is using what is a relatively tiny dispute, so far as numbers are concerned - though crucial in the terms of human beings - to try and stop Turkey coming into the European Union," said Straw. "And Turkey is being much more harshly treated in these negotiations than, for example, its neighbors Bulgaria and Romania ever were."

Straw's remarks came as Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders, Dervis Eroglu and Dimitris Christofias, met for the latest round of reunification talks.  In response to Straw's comments, Cyprus warned Britain that its two military bases on the island would be abolished if the country supports and brings about a permanent partition of its former colony.

Cyprus was split in a 1974 Turkish invasion triggered by a Greek-inspired coup. Turkish Cypriots live in its north and Greek Cypriots in the south. Numerous attempts to reunite Cyprus have failed.


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