Turkey risks EU negotiations over Cyprus stance: France

8th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 8, 2006 (AFP) - France called Wednesday for the timetable governing Turkey's talks to join the European Union to be revised if Ankara does not change its defiant stance on the divided island state of Cyprus by the end of the year.

PARIS, Nov 8, 2006 (AFP) - France called Wednesday for the timetable governing Turkey's talks to join the European Union to be revised if Ankara does not change its defiant stance on the divided island state of Cyprus by the end of the year.

"If by the end of the year Turkey still does not recognise the 25 (EU) member states, including obviously Cyprus, then it seems to me necessary to review the membership timetable for Turkey into the European Union," Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told parliament.

Earlier, the European Commission issued a report warning Turkey to meet its obligations, in particular toward Cyprus, or else its "overall progress" in EU membership talks would be affected.

The report said there was no resolution in sight over Cyprus, which is divided between an internationally-recognised Greek Cypriot administration in the south and a northern self-declared statelet under Turkish patronage.

Although Turkey is keen to join the European Union, it has not modified its stance on Cyprus, which it invaded in 1974 in response to a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece.

"Today, it has to be noted that Turkey still does not accept opening its ports and airports to ships and planes, not only (southern) Cypriot ones, but also those that come from (southern) Cyprus. It is therefore evident today that Turkey is not responding to its obligations," Douste-Blazy said.

The minister said current EU president Finland was doing everything to resolve that and other outstanding issues with Turkey by the end of the year.

But he stressed that the European Commission report said that Turkey's EU negotiations were "accumulating delays" because of Ankara's lagging reform in the areas of freedom of expression, religious freedom and minority rights.

Although French President Jacques Chirac has said he was in favour of Turkey one day joining the European Union, relations with France and Turkey have frequently been strained over the issue.

In the latest row, Turkey last month expressed fury at a French parliamentary bill which would make it a crime in France to deny that the World War I massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks constituted genocide.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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