Turkey must recognise Cyprus: French PM

2nd August 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 2 (AFP) - France warned Turkey Tuesday that it will press for Ankara's recognition of Cyprus as a key condition for EU accession talks to start in October.

PARIS, Aug 2 (AFP) - France warned Turkey Tuesday that it will press for Ankara's recognition of Cyprus as a key condition for EU accession talks to start in October.

"It seems to me inconceivable that such a negotiation process can begin with a country which does not recognize every one of the members of the European Union, that is to say the 25," Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin told Europe One radio.

"There is a principle there that seems to me must be defended, and is one France will make clear to Turkey as well as to other European Union countries during the next meetings," he said.

Turkey has refused to endorse the internationally-recognized Greek Cypriot government, which joined the EU last year.

But Ankara last week signed a document extending an existing Turkey-EU customs union accord to 10 new EU members, including Cyprus, a crucial EU condition for the start of accession negotiations on October 3.

Nicosia welcomed the words of support from France after previously criticising the British EU presidency for not taking Turkey to task over the recognition issue.

Cypriot government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said that Villepin's words were "especially positive" and backed Nicosia's main argument.

"We've always said that it's absurd for a country wanting to join the European Union not to recognise one of its member states, this was confirmed by the comments of the French Prime Minister," Chrysostomides told reporters in Nicosia.

He hoped that France would make this its official stance towards Turkey and said Cyprus would take a formal position at the EU before the October 3 deadline. Cyprus has the right to veto Turkey's launch of accession negotiations but has not threatened to do so yet.

"We consider that recognition of the Cyprus Republic, based on international law, UN resolutions and European law, is a clear obligation of Turkey," said Chrysostomides.

Villepin suggested the EU may not comply with the October 3 deadline.

When asked if the date might not be respected, he replied: "Absolutely, I think things should be clear."

Opposition to Turkey's EU entry was cited as a major factor in the rejection of the EU constitution by French and Dutch voters in referendums in May and June.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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