31st May 2020

Greece: Cyprus talks could spill over after 1 May

Greek Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis has said that UN-led talks on the reunification of Cyprus could spill over after 1 May, as negotiations between the two sides have so far led to no results.

"If they (the negotiations) continue (beyond 1 May) then we will reach a deal in the foreseeable future", Mr Yannitsis said.

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  • Greece is unhappy with the referendum date set by the UN (Photo: European Commission)

Both Cypriot communities are under pressure to strike a deal before Cyprus joins the EU, as EU laws will otherwise only apply to the southern part of the island.

Problems with the date

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan fixed a tight timetable for the peace talks, setting 21 April as the date for referendums to be held by the two sides on the finalised agreement.

However, Greece is not happy with this date as "April 21" is synonymous with the seven-year military dictatorship, which took power in a coup on that day in 1967.

Cyprus was divided after Turkey invaded the northern part of the island in 1974 in response to a Greek Cypriot coup backed by the Greek military junta aimed at uniting the island with Greece.

"They will probably not take place on April 21 for the reasons everybody knows", Minister Yiannitsis said.

Turkey-EU relations

Lack of agreement on the island’s division before it joins the EU could also spell difficulties for Turkey’s EU ambitions, as EU leaders will decide at the end of the year whether to start accession negotiations with the country.

Commission President Romano Prodi had stressed at the beginning of the year that Turkish membership of the EU and finding a solution to the 30-year division of the island of Cyprus were inextricably linked.

"Our position is very clear that the settlement of the Cyprus problem will greatly help Turkey's EU aspirations", he said.

Yet, European Parliament President Pat Cox, speaking in Turkey said that the Cyprus issue was not a pre-condition to Turkey’s EU accession.

Addressing MPs at the Parliamentary General Assembly, Mr Cox also noted that Turkey was able to make reforms which he thought were impossible when he was elected parliamentarian in 1989.

EU to publish new enlargement method

EU hopefuls will know more about the hoops they will have to jump through in future when the European Commission publishes its new "enlargement methodology" this week.

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EU to publish new enlargement method

EU hopefuls will know more about the hoops they will have to jump through in future when the European Commission publishes its new "enlargement methodology" this week.

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