Turkey must recognise Cyprus: Douste-Blazy

4th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 4 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy confirmed on Thursday his country's position that Turkey must first recognise Cyprus before being allowed to enter into EU accession talks.

PARIS, Aug 4 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy confirmed on Thursday his country's position that Turkey must first recognise Cyprus before being allowed to enter into EU accession talks.

The reiteration, made in an interview with Le Monde newspaper, highlighted France's growing reservations over Turkey one day joining the European bloc.

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin on Tuesday set out the qualification, which marked a shift from President Jacques Chirac's initial vision that EU membership for Turkey was desired and unconditionally justifiable.

Villepin suggested that preliminary membership negotiations due to take place October 3 might be put back if Turkey did not recognise the Republic of Cyprus, which is run by the internationally endorsed Greek Cypriot government.

The conservative daily Le Figaro cited unnamed government ministers as saying that Chirac supported the change.

The failure of a French referendum in May on adopting an EU constitution was in part blamed on public resistance to the idea of the mainly Muslim, much poorer country with a population of 70 million becoming part of the predominantly Christian European Union.

Douste-Blazy told Le Monde that France's stance was predicated on the "new element" of Turkey signing up to a customs union on July 29 with the 10 newest EU members -- including Cyprus -- while stressing that the agreement did not amount to recognition of Cyprus.

That, he said, was "a unilateral gesture that poses a serious problem."

"To not want to recognise a country in the Union while wanting to enter it is just not acceptable," the minister said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday that he was upset by France's condition and asserted that Ankara would not bow down to any additional conditions from the bloc.

Turkey only recognises the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, proclaimed in 1983, nine years after Turkish troops occupied the northern third of Cyprus in response to an Athens-engineered Greek Cypriot coup in Nicosia aimed at uniting the Mediterranean island with Greece.

Turkey says its position towards the Greek Cypriot administration will remain unchanged until the conflict is resolved and the Turkish and Greek communities of the island are reunified.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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