NEWS

Commission package for Turk Cypriots

The European Commission yesterday unveiled plans for what it describes as «comprehensive measures» to end the isolation of the Turkish-Cypriot community. But the proposals immediately met with objections from the commissioners of Greece and Cyprus who fear that direct contacts between the EU and the Turkish Cypriots will lead to the de facto recognition of the breakaway state in northern Cyprus and the sidelining of the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus. The Commission’s proposals will be decided at a later stage by the Council of Ministers, where they will need a simple majority to pass. They include a 259-million-euro aid package and an end to the trade embargo on the self-declared Turkish-Cypriot state. The Commission said that this did not imply recognition of the breakaway state and that its proposals were unquestionably legal. But the Greek Cypriots, who rejected the UN plan for their island’s reunification, are threatening legal action. «There is no risk that the measures which we have adopted today will lead directly or indirectly to a kind of recognition,» Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen told a news conference in Brussels. «The aim of the package is to bring the isolation of the Turkish-Cypriot community to an end.» A precondition for unity, he added, was «to eliminate the very strong economic disparities between the south and north.» He said also that the package was a reward for the Turkish Cypriots who voted overwhelmingly in favor of the UN plan. But only the Greek Cypriots enjoy the fruits of full EU membership while the island remains divided. Last month, Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou said, «Our contacts are continuing but if the disagreement continues we will have to take protective measures such as appealing to the European Community court in Luxembourg.» Yesterday the Athens News Agency quoted sources close to Greek commissioner Stavros Dimas and Cypriot commissioner Marios Kyprianou expressing reservations at the Commission’s proposals. Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots welcomed the proposals.