NEWS

Turkey pressed on recognition

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis began a key two-day visit to Cyprus yesterday, pledging to step up efforts to reunify the divided island and insisting that Turkey must meet certain requirements, such as recognizing the republic’s government, if it wants to move ahead with EU talks. «We will not rest, because we believe that the future of the island must be one of cooperation and peace,» said Karamanlis upon arriving in Nicosia. In reference to the issue of recognition, he later added: «A country that wants to be a member of the European Union has a duty to understand that there are rules of behavior. There are no exceptions.» On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said that Turkey had no obligation to recognize the «Greek-Cypriot administration.» Karamanlis met with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos. «I appreciate the support of Greece, which has come at such a great cost. We greet you with respect, appreciation and love,» said Papadopoulos. The visit’s aim, Karamanlis’s first to Cyprus as Greek premier, was to help the two sides thrash out their foreign policy positions before the December 17 EU summit, when leaders of the 25 member states will decide if, and possibly when, to start accession talks with Turkey. Neither leader said whether they would consider vetoing further EU discussions with Turkey if it did not meet criteria, such as recognizing Papadopoulos’s government. «We will take a decision in December, after evaluating all the facts,» said the Cypriot president, although he announced that he had invited the Turkish government to meet for talks before the December summit to discuss relations between the two countries. «Now it is up to Turkey to accept this invitation and challenge,» said Papadopoulos. Karamanlis is to address the Cypriot Parliament today.