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EU Gives Turkey Deadline on Cyprus Trade Obligations

The European Union has given Turkey until the first week of December to grant trade privileges to Cyprus or face the possible suspension of EU membership negotiations.

The EU's Finnish presidency Monday gave Ankara until December 6, when the EU Commission meets, to begin opening its sea and air ports to Greek Cypriot ships and planes.

Finland's prime minister, Matti Vanhanen, says the Commission will be expected to make recommendations on an EU response if Turkey fails to lift its embargo against Greek-governed Cyprus, which is a member of the EU. Mr. Vanhanen says he has no intention of discussing Turkey at the upcoming EU summit in mid-December.

Turkey said last week it will open its ports to Cypriot ships when the European Union lifts its isolation of Turkish Cypriots.

The Greek-led Cyprus government has demanded that Turkey fulfill its EU obligations.

Turkey says the Cyprus problem is political and not an appropriate part of the EU negotiations.

The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded the island in response to a coup in Nicosia backed by the military government then in power in Greece.

The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is only recognized by Turkey.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.