Turkey firm on stance over Greek Cyprus’ EU post

Turkey firm on stance over Greek Cyprus’ EU post

ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
Turkey will carry out its pledge to cease contact with the European Union Presidency when Greek Cyprus assumes the role July 1, but will maintain ties with the European Commission, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said after meeting with EU officials June 6.

“Our position on the presidency of the Greek Cypriots is clear. Today we have once more conveyed our position in the meeting,” Davutoğlu said at a joint news conference with EU counterpart Catherine Ashton and Stefan Füle, the European commissioner in charge of enlargement.

 “The relations and contacts with the EU will continue, but none of the ministries, institutions of the Turkish Republic will be in contact with the EU presidency in any of the activities related to Greek Cypriot presidency.”

Speaking of the visa requirements, Davutoğlu said that visa exemption is a right for Turkish citizens. He said the visa exemption dialogue within the objective criteria should start immediately.

Membership to the EU is a strategic goal of Turkey, Turkey’s EU Minister Egemen Bağış said at the same news conference. Turkey’s steps for reforms have made Turkey more democratic, transparent, prosperous, respectable and self-confident, he said. “Turkey will determinedly progress in its course toward the EU,” Bağış said.

Ashton pledged to develop strategic reactions with Turkey. Ashton also thanked Turkey for sheltering nearly 27,000 Syrian refugees who fled violence in neighboring Syria where forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are waging a crackdown on an uprising.

“First of all, our thoughts are everyday with the people of Syria,” Ashton said. “We are horrified by the violence and determined to work together in support of solutions.” She also thanked Turkey for its mediator role in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.

Füle said they are planning to revive relations between Turkey and the EU.

Turkey does not recognize Greek Cyprus as a sovereign nation and opposes it taking over the EU presidency until a solution to the dispute is found. The Mediterranean island has been divided since Turkish troops intervened in 1974 in response to a Greek Cypriot coup seeking union with Greece. Only the Greek section is part of the EU.

Compiled from Reuters and AA stories by the Daily News staff.