EU delays Cyprus issue votes

Brussels – The European Union decided yesterday to postpone until the autumn two decisions on EU regulations concerning dealings with the Turkish Cypriots, giving the Cypriot government time to negotiate an improvement of its position. The two regulations deal with 259 million euros in economic assistance for the Turkish Cypriots and the highly questionable regulation regarding direct trade between the Turkish-occupied territory and EU countries. The initial intention of the European Commission, and the group of countries close to Britain, was that these regulations be approved as quickly as possibly, by the end of July if possible. But this was avoided after days of negotiations in Brussels. At yesterday’s meeting of the council of permanent representatives, which was conducted in a very calm atmosphere, the Dutch presidency proposed a postponement of the decisions which will be reached in two stages. This was supported by Greece and Cyprus as well as another five countries, including Germany, and was accepted. The General Affairs Council will now approve the economic aid regulation on September 13. When this is done, the trading issue will be discussed in October. Regarding the economic regulation, no difficulties are foreseen as the Cypriot government itself has proposed that the aid be given, although Nicosia would like to see some changes to the wording of the agreement in at least three places. The Dutch have proposed amendments which, according to EU sources, seem to satisfy the Cypriots. On the other hand, the Cypriot government considers direct trade unacceptable as this implies the de facto recognition of the Turkish Cypriots.