Nicosia irked by Ankara

Turkey’s recognition of Cyprus as a European Union member before it embarks on its own accession talks has always been a «self-evident» requirement for Nicosia, Cypriot government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said yesterday. Nicosia had expected Turkey to sign a protocol aimed at extending its customs agreement with the EU to include all 25 member states without any reservations challenging the essence of the pact, Chrysostomides said. Instead, last Friday, Turkey signed the accord with an attached declaration clarifying that its signature of the accord was not de facto recognition of Cyprus. Asked whether Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos stands by his pledge of last December 17 to veto the launch of Turkey’s accession talks with the EU if Ankara failed to sign and implement the customs protocol, Chrysostomides said that «the stance of the Republic of Cyprus has not changed since then.» Chrysostomides also criticized as «provocative» comments by Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat following their meeting in Ankara on Tuesday. The two men were quoted as refering to a «new partnership» and «a new state» following their discussions about Turkey’s support for the Turkish-held north of Cyprus. Also yesterday, Democratic Rally (DISY) party leader Nikos Anastassiades revealed that he had sent letters to top European officials condemning Turkey’s move. He expressed his «deep displeasure and disappointment… at the unique political and institutional absurdity in the entire history of the European Union» and called on the EU not to tolerate its principles and values being challenged. Anastassiades added that his party would not oppose Turkey’s membership in the EU, stressing that «the achievement of this aim is in Turkey’s hands alone.» (ANA)