NEWS

Brussels says there is only one Cyprus

The European Commission yesterday dismissed an appeal by the Turkish foreign minister for an end to the «embargo» on goods produced in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, saying that the EU had not imposed any embargo but simply did not recognize the entity of the Turkish Cypriots’ self-declared republic. Jean-Christophe Filori, spokesman for Guenter Verheugen, the commissioner for enlargement, was responding to an interview by Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul which appeared in the Financial Times yesterday, the eve of a visit to northern Cyprus by Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan. «It’s high time for the EU and others to lift the embargo,» Gul said. «Let’s build some confidence on the ground… then we will not have much left to solve at the negotiating table.» But for the EU, only the Republic of Cyprus represents the whole of the island, making it impossible to accept any imports that would be accompanied by documents and stamps of an unrecognized entity. Only Turkey recognizes the breakaway state. Erdogan is expected to announce a series of measures aimed at helping the Turkish Cypriots financially. On May 21, the European Commission is to announce its own measures for the Turkish Cypriots, which will be aimed at helping bring the island’s two communities close together. It was made clear yesterday that these measures and others will not imply recognition of the self-declared state. The Commission intends to help the occupied territory with more than 200 million euros in aid which will be made available only after the island’s division has ended. Speaking to Turkish journalists in Berlin, Verheugen said yesterday that the EU would prefer a united Cyprus in its ranks but that if this were not possible, other options were available. He expressed hope that a solution could be reached before Cyprus becomes an EU member on May 2004. Meanwhile, from tomorrow Turkish Cypriots will be allowed to drive across the Green Line in their own vehicles, using the Aghios Domitios checkpoint. Cypriot authorities had previously not allowed this, saying they did not recognize the vehicles’ documents and drivers’ licenses.