Nicosia puts foot down on Turkey

Cyprus cannot act as if all is well in Turkish negotiations with the European Union when Ankara persistently refuses to fulfill its obligations as an EU candidate state, Cypriot Foreign Minister Giorgos Lillikas said yesterday ahead of talks with Dora Bakoyannis in Athens. «We are simply implementing a policy which Nicosia had declared early on to the European Union presidency and the European Commission,» Lillikas said. He was elaborating on an earlier declaration by Cypriot government spokesman Christodoulos Pasiardis according to which Nicosia will block progress in Turkish accession talks until Ankara opens its air and sea ports to Cyprus. According to Greece’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos, Ankara’s failure to extend its customs agreement to include Cyprus is «politically illogical.» «The obligations (Ankara) has undertaken as regards the protocol are autonomous and established,» he said. Koumoutsakos also criticized Ankara for threatening France over its draft law that aims to make it a crime to deny that the 1915-1917 genocide of the Armenians took place. «Threats or insinuations and the aggressive tone of public statements do not befit a country on the road to joining the European Union,» he said. The Greek Parliament voted in 1996 to condemn the Armenian genocide but Koumoutsakos said, «In the modern world, the past should not act as a hindrance to the future.»

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