Turkish-Cypriot trade deal stalls

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union and Cyprus will not agree on terms for direct trade between the Turkish-occupied north of the island and the EU this year, the EU’s Dutch presidency said yesterday. «We need much more time,» presidency spokesman Frits Kemperman said. Asked if this meant no deal would be reached by the end of this year, when the Dutch presidency ends, he replied, «Yes.» Nicosia has agreed to approve an EU aid package of 259 million euros to develop infrastructure in the north, but rejected proposals from Brussels for the EU to trade directly with the Turkish Cypriots. «It now looks as if only the financial package will go forward, leaving aside for the moment the proposal on direct trade,» Jean-Christophe Filori, spokesman for Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen, said. «So they will just decouple the thing.» However, Kemperman said EU foreign ministers would only approve the aid package, probably in late November, if some linkage were maintained with a future trade deal.