Turks pressed over Cyprus

Athens and Nicosia yesterday reiterated their determination that Turkey must recognize Cyprus before it can be given a date for the start of its EU accession talks, with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos hinting he might use his country’s veto to ensure Ankara does just that. «If possible, we have to coordinate our efforts for this summit to end with a success and not a deadlock,» he said. Papadopoulos was referring to the December 16-17 meeting of European Union heads of state and government that will decide on Turkey’s EU prospects. Athens has said it wants Turkey in the EU, and a Greek veto is regarded as highly unlikely. However, Greece insists that Ankara must first set aside its refusal to recognize Cyprus – which Turkey invaded in 1974 and of which it still occupies about a third. «The non-recognition of a member state, and the presence of occupation troops on the territory of an EU member is politically and institutionally absurd,» Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said yesterday. Also yesterday, the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee said in a report that opening negotiations with Ankara would «presuppose recognition by Turkey» of Cyprus.