Cyprus to keep blocking full-fledged EU-Turkey entry talks

AP News
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Posted: Oct 19, 2015 4:09 PM

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus will not consent to letting Turkey restart stalled negotiations to join the European Union because Ankara has not done enough to help ongoing talks to reunify the ethnically-split country, its government said Monday.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said there's nothing yet to compel Cyprus to stop blocking talks between the bloc and Turkey on policy areas, or chapters that deal with justice and security, as well as the judiciary and fundamental rights.

Earlier Monday, Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides made similar remarks to Greece's state broadcaster ERT. He told the Cyprus News Agency that although "many other" EU member states want talks with Turkey to resume, Cyprus would stick to its line as long as Ankara doesn't live up to its obligations.

Cyprus was divided along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a Greek junta-backed coup aiming to unite the island with Greece. Turkey doesn't recognize Cyprus as a state and is the only country to recognize a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence while maintaining some 35,000 troops in the breakaway north.

All EU members must consent to EU entry talks with candidate countries. Cyprus has blocked six of 35 EU-Turkey negotiation chapters since 2009 because of Ankara's refusal to recognize it and to allow Cypriot ships and airplanes to use its ports and airports.

But Cyprus' permanent representative to the EU, Kornelios Korneliou, said Monday that the Cypriot government could agree to EU talks with Turkey on its economy and monetary policy chapter.

Korneliou told Cyprus' state radio that the economy and monetary policy chapter isn't among those that the Cypriot government has frozen.

Peace talks between Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci are expected to ramp up next month as the leaders delve deeper into the toughest aspects of a deal including rights to property lost during the war.

On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced her government's backing for the EU to start entry talks with Turkey on the economy and monetary policy chapter.

Merkel offered the support after a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to discuss an EU plan offering aid and concessions to Turkey in exchange for measures to halt the flow of irregular migration from that country.

Anastasiades said he would discuss the issue with Merkel at a European People's Party congress in Madrid later this week.