EU leaders should be objective about Cyprus problem: Turkish FM

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said on Monday that EU leaders should be objective about the Cyprus problem and should not see this as a matter of solidarity among the bloc, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported.

Gul, who is in the Finnish city of Tampere for the European- Mediterranean Process Foreign Ministers' Meeting, told a press conference that it would be difficult to come to a solution " without taking facts in the island into consideration."

He said that it is normal to have solidarity and commitment among members of the EU. However, he stressed that Turkey, Greece and a united Cyprus can become one of the EU's powers in East Mediterranean, but the Greek Cypriots are behaving against the EU's interests.

"As far as I am concerned, the Greek Cypriot administration laid down some preconditions," he said, adding that the Greek Cypriots are pursuing a strategy to keep this matter under the roof of the EU.

Meanwhile, Gul said that the Cyprus problem can not be a part of Turkey's EU full membership negotiations, adding that Turkey is eager to do its best to implement political reforms.

He said he did not think that EU leaders will make a decision to freeze talks with Turkey. "But if it is made, it will be a political decision," Gul said.

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country is holding rotating EU presidency, met separately with Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas and Gul in Tampere on Monday. But they failed to achieve a positive result over the Cyprus problem that threatens to derail Turkey's EU accession talks.

Finland said in a statement 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 made at a EU summit on Dec. 14-15.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey militarily intervened and occupied the north of Cyprus following a coup by a group of Greek officers.

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

Turkey has repeatedly said that it will not take a unilateral step to open its airports and harbors to Greek Cypriot traffic unless an isolation imposed on the Turkish Cypriots is lifted.

The EU has said that Turkey, with which it began membership talks in October last year, must open its ports to the Greek Cypriots this year under an additional protocol, which extends Ankara's customs union to 10 new EU member states including the Republic of Cyprus, otherwise the bloc will end accession talks with Turkey.

Source: Xinhua

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