PM: Cyprus is Turkey’s test

Prime Minister Costas Simitis warned Brussels and Ankara yesterday that Turkey’s closer ties with the EU would depend on its helping to solve the Cyprus issue. Speaking to his PASOK party’s central committee yesterday, at the start of a two-day debate on the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s proposal for a solution, Simitis declared, «enlargement begins with Cyprus.» This was a repeat of Athens’s warning that it will veto if any EU members try to hold up Cyprus’s accession at the EU summit on December 12. Regarding Turkey’s effort to be given a date for the start of its own accession talks, something which Athens supports, he said, «The Green Line in Nicosia keeps Ankara from Brussels.» Athens and Nicosia have accepted Annan’s plan as the basis for talks. Turkish-Cypriots still want to discuss it. Foreign Minister George Papandreou will discuss the plan with Annan’s envoy, Alvaro de Soto, in Athens today.

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