European Commission Vice President Jacques Barrot, who is also the European Union Transport Commissioner, said on Monday that Turkey's entry negotiations cannot be concluded with the EU unless Turkey opens its ports and airports to the Greek Cypriots.
Barrot made the remarks at a joint press conference with Cypriot Minister of Communications and Works Charis Thrasou on the sidelines of the "Maritime Cyprus 2005" shipping conference in the southern Cypriot coastal town of Limassol.
"It is obvious that negotiations with Turkey cannot be concluded unless the problem of free transport of goods in the entire EU customs union is resolved," Barrot told the reporters.
The EU commissioner from France also made it clear that Turkey was running out of options, saying "the chapter on transport, which means free movement of goods, can't be opened unless there is a change on the part of the Turkish government."
On July 29, Turkey signed a protocol extending a customs union agreement with the EU to its 10 new member states including Cyprus which is represented solely by the Greek Cypriots in the pan-Europe bloc.
But Ankara simultaneously issued a declaration stressing that it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
An EU counter statement issued on Sept. 21 said Turkey's declaration had no legal effect on its obligations, calling on Ankara to fully implement the protocol, including the opening of Turkey's ports and airports to the Greek Cypriots.
Barrot also warned that the EU would take some measures against Turkey if there was no solution to the transport problem when Turkey's entry talks begin on Oct. 3.
Thrasou, on his part, said he had urged Barrot to exert strong pressure on the Turkish side "to lift the unacceptable measures" on Cypriot ships, adding that Barrot promised to make every possible effort.
Cyprus, which gained independence from Britain in 1960, has been split into the Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot north since 1974 when Turkey sent troops to take control of its northern third in response to a Greek-inspired coup.
Efforts by the international community to reunite the island have so far failed and the Greek Cypriot government jointed the EU on behalf of the whole island in May, 2004.
Turkey is the only country recognizing the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and it closes all its ports and airports to the Greek Cypriot south.