Turks: EU out of Cyprus

Despite the fact that the European Commission is expected to announce tomorrow that Cyprus will be among the first wave of new members acceding to the EU, Ankara yesterday kept up the rhetoric and tactics that have deadlocked the Cyprus issue. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit told Turkish journalists that «the recognition of the sovereignty» of the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus was not negotiable. «There are two realities on the island, which Athens and the Greek Cypriots must acknowledge in order to live in peace with the Turkish Cypriots,» Ecevit said. He added, «The only countries that can contribute to the solution are Greece, Turkey and Britain.» He called on the EU «to stop showing interest in Cyprus.» Turkish Foreign Minister Sukru Sina Gurel was even more direct on Saturday, repeating Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash’s threat of a permanent division of Cyprus. «The EU has begun to say it will admit the Greek-Cypriot side unilaterally, even if there is no solution. But they are not being realistic,» Gurel said. «If the EU maintains this stance, it will achieve nothing more than certifying the island’s division and ensuring it lasts forever.» He charged that «the intransigence of the Greek Cypriots stems from the position of Brussels, which has promised them that they will join, irrespective of whether the Cyprus problem is solved.» Meanwhile, Denktash yesterday underwent open heart surgery in New York, where he and Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides held talks with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week. News reports said over the weekend that Denktash, 78, had undergone heart bypass surgery in 1999. An aide, Ergun Olgun, told Turkey’s Anatolia agency that the three-hour operation to change an aortic valve was «very successful» and that «tests proved that Denktash does not have any other problem.» He was operated on by Turkish heart surgeon Mehmet Oz at the Presbyterian Medical Center. In Athens, Foreign Ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said: «We all know that we have great differences with Mr Denktash, who continues his intransigent policy on Cyprus. However, at this difficult time for him, the human element is paramount and we wish to express our wishes for a quick recovery.» He also welcomed the decision taken at the New York talks for the two sides to form two joint committees to work on treaties and laws for a future «common state.» Clerides will visit Athens on Oct. 17.