22nd May 2022

Turkey stance on Cyprus unaltered after EU report

Turkey has remained defiant in the face of a one month deadline issued by the European Commission on Wednesday (8 November) for the Cyprus issue to be solved.

Reacting to the critical Brussels report which gives until an EU leader summit in December for Turkey to open up to trade from Cyprus, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated Ankara's position.

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"Our EU perspective remains unchanged. I don't think the negotiations will be suspended. The solution platform for Cyprus is not the European Union, but the United Nations. Unless the embargo on Cyprus is lifted, out stance will not change," he said, according to Italian news agency AKI.

Aside from repeating Turkey's stance that it will not budge until the economic isolation of northern Cyprus is ended, his comment about the UN does not bode well for an EU presidency compromise plan to break the impasse.

Finland, as current EU presidency, has worked out a three-point plan to try and break the deadlock and although it has seen little enthusiasm from all sides on the negotiating table, Helsinki is still hoping for movement before the summit on 14-15 December.

Elsewhere, the report has drawn mixed reactions from around Europe.

In keeping with its tough stance on the Turkey talks, France's foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said that if Turkey had not fulfilled its obligations towards to Cyprus by the end of the year, the accession timetable would have to re-examined.

Similarly German chancellor Angela Merkel said that Turkey "must fulfil its obligations by the end of the year."

"Otherwise the European Union will draw appropriate consequences, simply carrying on is not an option," added the chancellor.

The UK, a champion of Turkish EU membership, took a more optimistic line. Europe minister Geoff Hoon praised the "enormous steps on human rights reform" made by Turkey and said it was "premature" to speculate on what would happen if Ankara did not fulfil its Cyprus obligations.

Spain also stood to Turkey on Wednesday. A government spokesperson told AP "We have always supported the entry of Turkey into the EU," with Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero set to visit Ankara on Sunday and Monday.

The European Commission in its report yesterday refrained from saying whether negotiations with Turkey should be suspended but said it would "make relevant recommendations ahead of the European Council, if Turkey has not fulfilled its obligations."

As a whole, member states have given Turkey until the end of 2006 to fix the situation with Cyprus.

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