Turkey's EU talks in question over Cyprus trade relations

6th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

6 October 2006, ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday stressed that his government will not bow to open Turkish ports to traffic from European Union-member Cyprus unless trade bans on Turkish Cyprus are also lifted. Erdogan was speaking at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel who was in Ankara for official talks. EU officials have warned that Turkey's EU membership negotiations may be suspended unless Turkey opens full trade relations with Cyprus. "My hope is t

6 October 2006

ANKARA - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday stressed that his government will not bow to open Turkish ports to traffic from European Union-member Cyprus unless trade bans on Turkish Cyprus are also lifted.

Erdogan was speaking at a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel who was in Ankara for official talks.

EU officials have warned that Turkey's EU membership negotiations may be suspended unless Turkey opens full trade relations with Cyprus.

"My hope is that this difficult problem will be overcome," Merkel said but Erdogan made it clear Turkey expected concessions to help Turkish Cyprus, a state recognized only by Ankara.

"The isolation of Turkish Cyprus must be lifted... is it a terror haven, is it a source of money laundering?" Erdogan asked. "If the isolation is not lifted we will not look at opening ports and airports (to Greek Cyprus)."

Erdogan stressed that Turkish Cypriots had been punished despite voting in favour of a United Nations reunification plan in 2004. Greek Cypriots voted overwhelmingly against the plan.

The two leaders also discussed their countries' strong economic relations and went into detail on how to help integrate ethnic-Turks living in Germany.

Merkel said that the biggest problem facing ethnic Turks in Germany was the language barrier and that they were looking at ways to solve the problem. One suggestion being looked into was the establishment of a Turkish-German university, Merkel said.

After flying to Istanbul with Erdogan for a Ramadan "breaking the fast dinner" held in her honour, Merkel spoke in favour of a constructive dialogue between different cultures and religions.

"We have to take time to listen to each other and get to know each other better," she said. "As partners we have a special interest in Turkey's rapprochement with the European Union," she added without specifying the ultimate level of Turkey's future connection with the EU.

Erdogan however stressed that EU membership for Turkey would be "a great chance for both sides and for world peace," adding that Turkish accession to the bloc would set an example before the world of how difference religions and traditions can be brought in harmony with global values and principles.

On Friday Merkel was scheduled to visit businessmen and minority church leaders in Istanbul.

DPA

Subject: German news

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