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Friday, 23 November, 2001, 12:47 GMT
Turkey holds key Cyprus debate
Map of Cyprus
The Turkish parliament is meeting in closed session to debate the future of the divided island of Cyprus.

The session comes after calls for the Turkish Government to explain its position on the island's future ahead of the first face-to-face meeting between the leaders of the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities for four years.

Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash are to meet on 4 December in the presence of a senior UN envoy.

Rauf Denktash
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash wants northern Cyprus to be recognised as a state
Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem recently warned that if the Republic of Cyprus joins the European Union, Turkey would annex the northern third of the island-which it took control of in 1974.

Some Turkish members of parliament are even calling for military action against Greece if Cyprus joins the EU.

The Cyprus Republic is due to become a full member of the EU by 2004, although the Turkish Cypriot administration has not taken part in any negotiations.

High stakes

A BBC correspondent in Turkey says that it is not just the future of Cyprus which is at stake. If Turkey were to annexe northern Cyprus, its own hopes of joining the EU would be dealt a severe blow.

Greece meanwhile has said it will veto the entry of other EU candidate countries if Cyprus is not allowed to join.

Reporters and spectators are barred from Friday's discussions, which officials say will be kept secret for 10 years due to the extreme sensitivity of the information provided.

The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded in response to a coup by Greek Cypriots, and established a Turkish Cypriot administration in the northern third of the country.

See also:

30 Oct 01 | Business
Turkey awaits IMF funds
17 Sep 01 | Business
Turkey rattled by conflict fears
31 Aug 01 | Business
Turkey's economy shrinks
27 Nov 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Cyprus
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