Nicosia threatens to veto aid

Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou yesterday urged his EU colleagues to delay for six months approval of a regulation allowing direct trade with the Turkish-Cypriot breakaway state, threatening that otherwise Cyprus would veto an aid package of 259 million euros for the Turkish Cypriots. There is a possibility that the EU will try to push through both issues in an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers at the end of this month that is to deal with the World Trade Organization talks. Cyprus cannot stop the European Commission proposal regarding direct trade – which it sees as implying de facto recognition of the breakaway state – as this will be decided by majority vote. So it is trying to delay approval of it until the end of the year. Therefore, Iacovou warned his colleagues in Brussels yesterday that if the legal Cypriot government is not heeded it may be forced to veto the funding for the Turkish Cypriots even though it does not disagree with the aid and is willing to accept it with certain amendments.