Turkey to open ports to Greek Cypriot vessels

7th December 2006, Comments 0 comments

7 December 2006, Helsinki/Brussels (dpa) - Turkey has agreed to open one of its ports and an airport to Greek Cypriot vessels, a spokeswoman for EU president Finland said in Helsinki Thursday. Because Turkey had refused to open its ports to vessels from the Greek Cypriot republic, which is a European Union member, the EU had proposed a partial freezing of accession talks with Ankara. In Brussels, EU diplomats said that, despite the lack of details on the possible opening of Turkish ports, they did not rule

7 December 2006

Helsinki/Brussels (dpa) - Turkey has agreed to open one of its ports and an airport to Greek Cypriot vessels, a spokeswoman for EU president Finland said in Helsinki Thursday.

Because Turkey had refused to open its ports to vessels from the Greek Cypriot republic, which is a European Union member, the EU had proposed a partial freezing of accession talks with Ankara.

In Brussels, EU diplomats said that, despite the lack of details on the possible opening of Turkish ports, they did not rule out the possibility of reversing at the last minute their decision to slow down accession talks with Turkey.

EU foreign ministers are due to meet Monday to discuss the issue.

A Finnish official described the news as a "welcome sign of movement."

"Things are moving, we will have to see what they result in," Folke Sundman, adviser to Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, said.

Sundman said the results would likely emerge at the December 11 foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry had previously said that the possibility of opening its ports to Greek Cypriot vessels was being discussed.

Turkish television channels reported that Ankara was expecting in return that the EU would permit direct trade with the Turkish- occupied northern part of Cyprus via the port of Famagusta and Ercan airport.

Turkey occupied the northern part of Cyprus in 1974 and is the only country to recognize the Turkish Cypriot republic.

One EU diplomat said that the talks seemed to be moving "in the right direction."

Ankara had neither officially confirmed or denied the reports as of Thursday morning.

DPA

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