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EUROPE > ‘Fly North, then Turkey will end Greek Cyprus ban’

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Turkey’s EU Minister Bağış calls on German Lufthansa to fly to Ercan airport.

Turkey’s EU Minister Bağış calls on German Lufthansa to fly to Ercan airport.

Turkey’s EU Minister Egemen Bağış has challenged German Chancellor Angela Merkel over the Ankara protocol, saying that Ankara is ready to open its ports to Greek Cypriots if a German airline starts flights to Ercan Airport in Turkish Cyprus.

“I’ll call your bluff. The Turkish Republic will open its sea ports, airports, and air space, if Lufthansa embarks on an expedition to Ercan Airport,” Egemen Bağış told reporters yesterday, citing Merkel’s call on Turkey for progress in implementing the Ankara Protocol.

Turkey’s ports were open to Greek Cypriot vessels until 1987, Bağış stressed, adding that letting Greek Cypriots into Turkish ports would not mean official recognition of the state.

Bağış signals no unilateral moves

“Nobody can expect Turkey to unilaterally open its sea and air ports while Turkish Cypriots are suffering due to the embargo, despite the EU decision dated April 24, 2004,” he said.

Merkel is repeating her doubts on Turkey’s full membership of the EU, but she has never made an effort to block the negotiation process, Bağış said, adding that on the contrary, during Germany’s EU term presidency, Turkey actually opened three negotiation chapters.

At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Feb. 25, Merkel butted heads with Ankara on the deadlock surrounding Cyprus. “We need Turkey’s progress on the implementation of the Ankara protocol. Otherwise, the number of negotiation chapters that can be opened will be limited,” Merkel said.

February/27/2013

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