Nicosia poised to play tough

Nicosia is set to demand this week at an EU meeting that Brussels officially condemn Ankara’s non-recognition of Cyprus, as Athens becomes increasingly worried that the derailment of Turkey’s membership talks could affect relations between the two neighbors. Before departing Nicosia yesterday, Foreign Minister George Iacovou said he would ask the Council of Permanent Representatives, which is due to meet on Wednesday, to issue a statement criticizing Ankara’s decision insisting that although it extended its EU customs union in June, it still refused to recognise Cyprus. Iacovou said on Saturday that Nicosia had been advised by legal experts that Ankara’s decision not to recognize Cyprus actually annulled its signing of the customs protocol. Athens is concerned that if Ankara comes under pressure during this crucial week of discussions and before the proposed October 3 start date for accession talks, it may have an effect on Turkey’s internal politics and, consequently, on its behavior in the Aegean and over the Cyprus issue.