Ankara vows support for Turkish-occupied Cyprus after EU protocol signing

ANKARA (AFP) – Turkey pledged yesterday to maintain political and economic support for the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot statelet after it signed a landmark accord with the European Union which granted trade privileges to the internationally recognized Greek Cypriots in the south of the island. «Cyprus is a national cause for Turkey… Turkey will continue to support [Turkish Cyprus] in every field and stand by its Turkish-Cypriot brothers,» Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer told reporters after talks here with visiting Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. «Turkey will do what it can for the economic and social development of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,» he added. Talat was visiting Ankara after Turkey’s signature on Friday of a protocol that extended an existing customs union with the EU to the 10 newest members of the bloc, including Cyprus, whose internationally recognized Greek-Cypriot government Ankara refuses to endorse. The signing of the document was the last condition required by Turkey before it starts membership talks with the EU on October 3, as decided by EU leaders at a summit in Brussels last December.