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Turkey to Freeze EU Ties if Cyprus Gets EU Presidency

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister for Cyprus affairs Besir Atalay (file photo)

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister for Cyprus affairs Besir Atalay says if the European Union gives southern Cyprus the rotating EU presidency in 2012, Turkey will freeze relations with the bloc.

Turkey's state-run Anatolia news agency quoted Atalay late Saturday as saying that Ankara is supporting Dervis Eroglu, the president of Turkish republic of northern Cyprus for the position.

Atalay said if the EU gives the rotating presidency to southern Cyprus, there would be a real crisis between Turkey and the EU, and relations would come to a sudden halt.

The internationally-recognized Greek Cypriot government is due to take on the six-month rotating EU presidency next July.

Greek Cypriots represent the island internationally, while Turkey is the only country to recognize the Turkish Cypriot state. The island of 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.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.