Drop member talks with Turkey: Sarkozy to EU

8th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, Sept 8, 2006 (AFP) - French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday called for the suspension of EU membership talks with Turkey unless Ankara changes its stance on Cyprus.

BRUSSELS, Sept 8, 2006 (AFP) - French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday called for the suspension of EU membership talks with Turkey unless Ankara changes its stance on Cyprus.

Sarkozy, a front-runner ahead of next year's French presidential election, specifically called for a break in accession talks while Turkey persists with its embargo against Cypriot ships using its ports.

Turkey signed in July 2005 a protocol extending its customs accord with the EU to the 10 new states that joined in 2004, including the island of Cyprus which Ankara refuses to recognise.

But its parliament has yet to ratify the document and Ankara continues to block the access of Cypriot ships.

"I call for the suspension of opening new adhesion chapters with Turkey while it has not ratified and clearly has not implemented the Ankara protocol (customs agreement)," he said in a speech.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey seized its northern third to protect Turkish Cypriots from a Greek Cypriot coup engineered by the military junta then in power in Athens, which aimed to unite the island with Greece.

Turkey began accession negotiations with the EU last October — no guarantees that it will ever join were given — and just one of 35 membership chapters (topics) has been opened, and closed again, with Ankara.

Sarkozy earlier insisted that there was no place for Turkey in the 25-nation bloc.

He called instead for a "privileged partnership", saying links with Turkey should be enhanced but without full membership. Germany and Austria also support that position.

"The geographical and political map of the EU" should be fixed, with the bloc open to states which are "clearly part of the continent of Europe" he said, citing Switzerland, Norway and the Balkan states.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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