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Media Watch 2006

01 December 2006
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 1 December 2006.
Cyprus ready to block Ankara EU talks
Tassos not satisfied with Commission’s stance towards Turkey "CYPRUS moved yesterday towards blocking Turkey’s EU accession course, with President Papadopoulos saying that he was not satisfied with the European Commission’s recommendations over Ankara’s refusal to meet its obligations."

"CYPRUS moved yesterday towards blocking Turkey’s EU accession course, with President Papadopoulos saying that he was not satisfied with the European Commission’s recommendations over Ankara’s refusal to meet its obligations.

The steps to be taken, including blocking the EU final conclusions and consequently Turkey’s accession course, will be discussed in Nicosia today by President Papadopoulos and Greece’s Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyianni in the presence of Cypriot Foreign Minister Giorgos Lillikas.

A crucial meeting of the National Council will follow tomorrow. President Papadopoulos when asked by journalists yesterday replied: “We are not satisfied with the EU recommendation, because it does not provide for any pressure on Turkey to comply with its obligations and is not helpful at all.

“Everybody wants to send a message to Turkey,” he noted.

He added: “A message has been sent, but not a strong one. What everybody should want to see is effective pressure, which can only come about through a timeframe for reviewing Turkey’s stand, failing which this country should face further sanctions. As to what we are going to do, you well understand we cannot make an announcement here.”

Foreign Minister Giorgos Lillikas said that the Cyprus Government had already begun consultations with its EU partners with a view to improving the recommendations, noting that the efforts will continue up to the last moment.

“The decision to be taken is a political one and our task will not be easy,” he noted, adding that there were too many interests and pressures from third parties. “But we have to defend our national interests,” he stressed. Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis was quite explicit in his daily press briefing when he said that the Greek Cypriot side would intensify its efforts to have a deadline for Turkey’s compliance inserted in the Commission’s final conclusions, to be presented at the EU General Affairs Meeting on December 11. He noted that unanimity was required for the adoption of the Conclusions.

Asked to say if Nicosia could go as far as to block the Commission’s conclusions, Pashiardis said: “This would be rushing, but I have no problem in saying that if we are still not satisfied by the conclusions, then we will register our disagreement, and since unanimity is required, the conclusions will not be approved.”

He further clarified that in such an eventuality Cyprus would exercise its right not to permit the opening of chapters in Turkey’s accession course.

This point is expected to dominate today’s talks of President Papadopoulos and Lilllikas with Bakoyianni.

Greece is on record as following a policy of not obstructing Turkey’s EU accession course.

Announcing Bakoyianni’s visit to Cyprus, the Greek Foreign Ministry said that the object of the Nicosia talks “would be to assess recent developments relating to the European course of Turkey and its prospects.”

The Government Spokesman in Nicosia noted that the meeting between President Papadopoulos and Dora Bakoyianni had been scheduled before the Commission recommendation was made public. In what could be an attempt at a breakthrough the Greek Foreign Ministry has invited Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to visit Athens on 7 and 8 December.

New course
The invitation had been extended earlier but had been postponed because of Greece’s commitments as a member of the UN Security Council.

Following revised Security Council arrangements “the Greek Foreign Ministry has communicated with the Foreign Ministry of Turkey, repeating the proposal for the visit of the Turkish Foreign Minister Mr Gul to Athens on the dates previously arranged, that is on December 7 and 8,” an official announcement in Athens said. There was no reaction from Gul. President Papadopoulos has convened that National Council tomorrow at 10am in the absence of the main right-wing Disy opposition, which withdrew from this advisory body in disagreement with the way it has been functioning. Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades yesterday described the Commission recommendations as an “unpleasant development, which must cause concern to both Nicosia and Athens, but also to all of us, about the way we act and what the next steps should be.”

He noted that this was not the time to criticise government moves, “but the time to start on a new course and focus our attention on what the people are expecting from a responsible government, that is to concentrate on initiatives and dialogue that would lead us to the reunification of the country.”

Commenting on Anastassiades’ statements, Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardis said the Disy leader should clarify whether he wanted the implementation of the initiative of July 8 for the resumption of intercommunal talks to be abandoned, in search of another avenue."