Ankara presses EU on Cyprus

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey has reacted with dismay to the European Union’s failure to allow direct trade with Turkish Cypriots despite promises made after they backed a UN plan to reunite Cyprus in an April referendum. The Cypriot government blocked efforts by the EU on Monday in Brussels to ease trade restrictions on the breakaway Turkish Cypriots, fearing such a move would amount to de facto recognition of their enclave. Only Ankara recognizes the Turkish-Cypriot statelet, which has been under international economic sanctions for decades. «Turkey attaches great importance to the swift entry into force of the draft regulations (on free trade and financial aid) without any amendments,» the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement released late on Monday. «The time has come to end the restrictions, which the Turkish Cypriots in no way deserve after displaying their will in the referendum for a settlement on the island,» it said. The EU had wasted «a valuable opportunity» to back up its pledges to the Turkish Cypriots with action, the ministry said.