Turkish press comments on accession of Cyprus

Some of the major headlines in Turkey’s press yesterday expressed their disappointment and bitterness that the Turkish government had not managed to help resolve the Cyprus issue in time for the Turkish Cypriots to be part of Cyprus’s accession process. The conservative Zaman said it was «sad but true» that the Greek Cypriots were joining the European Union without the Turkish Cypriots. «The Greek-Cypriot side, which Turkey does not recognize, will take a step toward becoming an EU member today, representing the whole island. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul will represent Turkey at the ceremony which is the start of a ‘difficult period’,» said the newspaper, which added that the policy Turkey had been following for 29 years «died today» and that it was time Turkey «looked the truth in the face.» The left-wing Radikal ran photographs on its front page of Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and all those who had led Turkey since 1974, with the caption «Be proud of what you have done.» According to the newspaper, Cyprus’s accession to the EU was likely to complicate Turkey’s efforts to join the Union. The liberal Milliyet said it would be a «bitter experience» for Turkey, which was the first to sign an association agreement with the EU and which has been waiting to become a full member of the European Union for 44 years, to watch the signing ceremony of the other 10 countries. It quoted Foreign Minister Gul who said that Turkey «would do its homework.» «Our government is determined to maintain the reforms,” he said at a press conference after a meeting of the Turkey-European Union Associate Partnership Council. «Our government has the necessary support in Parliament to maintain the reforms. Turkey will do its homework regarding the EU membership process,» he said. The liberal Hurriyet said Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis «plans to launch an action to separate the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on April 18 after signing the Accession Agreement between the Greek-Cypriot side and the European Union today. As the EU president, Simitis will pay an official visit to the Greek-Cypriot side. He invited opposition leaders of the TRNC to a meeting in the Greek-Cypriot side. For the first time, a Greek prime minister will hold contacts with politicians of the TRNC. Huseyin Angolemli, Mehmet Ali Talat and Izzet Izcan are expected to attend the meeting,» said the paper. It said the leader of the Turkish-Cypriot Republican Turkish party Mehmet Ali Talat sent Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou a letter asking that Turkish be included among the EU’s official languages. The Turkish-Cypriot press said Talat wanted the Annan proposal for Cyprus to be included in the Cyprus-EU accession treaty. They also expressed their disappointment at the absence of Turkish Cypriots from the signing ceremony, while one newspaper noted that a part of Europe was under occupation. The editor of Kibris, Suleyman Ergiuclu, who is in Athens, wrote that the Athens ceremony was not pleasant for the Turkish Cypriots, as they were the only ones who could have been there (in an official capacity) but were absent.