NEWS

Turkey refuses to budge for EU

Athens yesterday labeled as «absurd» the Ankara’s insistence that it will not recognize Cyprus in the buildup to the December 17 European Union summit, when the possibility of Turkey eventually joining the union is to be discussed. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said that his government had no intention of recognizing Cyprus as it had already «done our part» by supporting UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s plan for reunification, which was rejected by Greek-Cypriots in an April referendum. «The non-recognition of an EU member state by a candidate country is a political and institutional absurdity which has to be withdrawn,» said Giorgios Koumoutsakos, the Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman. As an EU member, Cyprus has the power to veto Turkish accession talks. Gul, whose comments were published in the Turkish daily Zaman yesterday, also rejected the idea of Turkey accepting an offer of special partnership status at the EU summit rather than full membership. «For us, negotiations mean negotiations for full membership. No other alternative is possible for us,» he said. According to military sources, 12 Turkish fighter jets violated Greek air space over the Aegean yesterday, between the islands of Lemnos and Lesvos, before being chased off by Greek fighters – in five cases, after simulated dogfights. Meanwhile, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos visited Italy yesterday, ahead of the December 17 meeting, and held talks with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.