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UPDATED: 08:58, December 08, 2006
Cyprus rejects Turkey's proposal for provisional opening of ports
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Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos on Thursday rejected Turkey's new proposal to provisionally open some ports to Cypriot vessels and said his government would make no concession in exchange for the implementation of Turkish obligation.

"We do not believe that Cyprus must give anything in exchange to Turkey so that Turkey will fulfill its obligations towards Europe," Cyprus News Agency quoted Papadopoulos as saying.

The Cypriot President is currently in Beijing for a state visit to China.

Turkey, which has failed to open its air and sea ports to the Republic of Cypriot, is faced with increasing pressure and a possible suspension of its EU entry talks at next week's EU summit.

In a bid to break the deadlock, Ankara has reportedly made an offer to open one port to the Republic of Cyprus, a EU member, and possibly an airport, for a trial period of one year.

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, whose country holds the EU presidency till the end of this year, said Thursday that Turkey plans to "provisionally open a major seaport", adding the " positive step" still needs clarification.

Confusion remains on whether Turkey seeks anything from the Cypriot side in return.

Nicosia is insisting on full implementation of the customs accord by Turkey and wants the EU to set a framework in which Ankara will be assessed on its obligations towards Cyprus.

Speaking from Beijing, Cypriot President Papadopoulos said "it is not Cyprus that is being judged on Dec. 15", referring to the planned EU summit.

The European Commission last week recommended slowing down Turkey's entry talks by freezing eight of the 35 negotiating chapters, or policy areas, after Ankara refused to fully extend the customs agreement and open up its ports to Cyprus.

Turkey has argued that the "international isolation" of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north, which is recognized by Turkey only, should be first lifted.

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 entered the EU in 2004 in the name of the whole island.

Source: Xinhua

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