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UPDATED: 21:53, November 27, 2006
Last-ditch EU-Turkey talks over Cyprus fail
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The last-ditch talks between the European Union (EU) and Turkey over Cyprus failed on Monday, overshadowing Turkey's bid for gaining a membership into the bloc.

On Monday morning, Finnish foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, met separately with Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas and Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul in the southern city of Tampere.

"Unfortunately, we have come to conclusion that at this stage circumstances do not permit that an agreement could be reached during the Finnish Presidency," said Tuomioja.

Tuomioja added that this failure would have certain consequences on the negotiations regarding Turkey's accession into the EU.

Finland said in a statement on Monday that it would immediately begin discussions with the EU Commission on whether to suspend Turkey's EU accession negotiations.

EU foreign ministers would discuss the issue at a meeting on Dec. 11, and a final decision is expected to be reached at a EU summit on Dec. 14-15.

Finland has held intensive consultations with all parties. The objective has been to find a solution that would enable the uninterrupted continuation of Turkey's accession process and would improve the situation of both Greek and Turkish communities in Cyprus.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey militarily intervened and controlled the north of Cyprus following a coup on the island by some Greek military officers.

In 1983, the Turkish Cypriot authorities declared breakaway and set up "the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus(TRNC)", which is recognized only by Turkey.

The internationally-recognized Republic of Cyprus entered the EU in 2004 in the name of the whole island.

Under a customs union agreement with the EU, Turkey is obliged to open its ports and airports to Cyprus. Turkey refuses to do so until the 25-nation bloc keeps its promise to ease the international isolation of the island's breakaway TRNC.

A meeting of foreign ministers of the EU and the Mediterranean region began in Tampere on Monday. The dispute between Cyprus and Turkey is expected to dominate the gathering, but there is little chance for a solution to emerge.

Source: Xinhua

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