EU talks Turkish Cyprus reward

EU ministers are to discuss options for reducing the economic embargo of Cyprus' Turkish north.

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    At a two-day meeting in Luxembourg starting on Monday, foreign ministers are to discuss measures to reward the Turkish Cypriots for voting "yes" to reunification.

    On the agenda may be direct flights to the breakaway state and permission to export their produce directly into Europe.

    At the moment, Turkish Cypriots can legally trade only with Turkey - the sole country to recognise it since the division of the island in 1974.

    EU reward

    Despite voting in favour of a UN plan to reunify the island in Saturday's referendum, the north will be kept out of the EU because of Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejecting unity.
    Both sides had to approve the proposals for Cyprus to be reunified in time for EU membership on 1 May. The result means that only the Greek Cypriot south will join the EU.

    Turkish Cypriots endorsed the plan with a 65% majority. But more than three-quarters of Greek Cypriots voted "no" in Saturday's referendum.

    No recognition

    EU officials in Brussels said on Sunday they would consider everything short of official political recognition of the north of the island.

    Turkish Cypriots look through a
    fence to the Greek south

    It may be difficult to lift the trade embargo completely as it was the result of judgments by the European Court of Justice.

    But it would be possible to remove tariffs on farm products and fund infrastructure developments.

    However, with Greek Cyprus joining the EU on Saturday, it is unlikely that too much change will be able to pass without a veto from the new member.

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos told a news conference the Cypriot government would ensure Turkish Cypriots benefit from the island's accession to the EU.

    "The Greek Cypriots are not turning their backs on their Turkish Cypriot compatriots," he said.

    "On the contrary we shall work for a solution that will meet the hopes and aspirations of both communities."

    When asked whether Cyprus would veto any EU efforts to lift sanctions against the north, Papadopoulos said he could never accept recognition of the state.
    "There can be no question of recognition. Subject to that we are open to everything else," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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