Cyprus challenges EU aid tender plans in north

NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus has taken the European Commission to court over an energy project in the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state in the island’s north that was planned as EU aid, its foreign minister said yesterday. Cyprus, represented in the European Union by Greek Cypriots, has sought interim measures against the project’s execution until the case is heard at the Court of European Communities, Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis said. «Unfortunately, we had no other choice,» she said. Cyprus says the project in question, an invitation to tender for upgrading northern Cyprus’s energy sector, attempted to involve the Turkish-Cypriot authorities, giving credence to the enclave which is only recognized by Ankara. «It was deemed by the government and its legal advisers as unacceptable and incompatible with the spirit and the letter of the financial regulation,» Marcoullis said. The dispute runs to the heart of Cyprus’s division and the complex nature of its membership in the European Union. The European Commission invited tenders for the project in January, under the umbrella of a -259 million aid package included in a financial regulation. Turkish Cypriots said the move was an attempt to keep the community in isolation. «This is the continuation of the Greek-Cypriot policy of keeping our community isolated and of blocking the development of relations between us and the EU,» said Turkish-Cypriot spokesman Hasan Ercakica. «The EU has to decide whether it wishes to continue allowing the Greek Cypriots to abuse the mechanisms of the EU in this way, or whether it really supports the lifting of the isolation on the Turkish Cypriots.» Turkish Cypriots in northern Cyprus are subject to restrictions, ranging from bans on direct exports and air links with most countries.