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Last Updated: Monday, 27 November 2006, 11:08 GMT
Cyprus row halts EU-Turkey talks
A destroyed Cyprus Airways plane in the UN buffer zone in Cyprus
A UN buffer zone still divides Greek and Turkish Cypriots
Talks between the EU and Turkey over Cyprus have broken down without agreement, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja has said.

EU officials have said that a failure to break the impasse could lead to the collapse of Turkey's EU membership bid.

The EU had given Turkey until 6 December to open its ports to traffic from Cyprus, whose government Turkey refuses to recognise.

"An agreement could not be reached," said Mr Tuomioja in Tampere, Finland.

Finland holds the rotating presidency of the EU until the end of the year.

Mr Tuomioja was speaking after holding separate meetings with the Turkish and Cypriot foreign ministers - Abdullah Gul and George Lillikas.

He said no new talks had been arranged and the EU would have to decide where this left Turkey's membership bid.

"There will be consequences," he said. "Business as usual cannot continue."

Trade blockage

Turkey has refused to admit Cypriot traffic until the EU honours a pledge to ease its embargo on Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus.

Business as usual cannot continue
Erkki Tuomioja
Finnish Foreign Minister

Cyprus - an EU member since 2004 - will not agree to direct trade with the self-styled Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is recognised only by Turkey.

Finland had asked Turkey to open up some ports and airports to Cypriot planes and ships and had asked the Turkish Cypriots to cede control of a village in northern Cyprus. In return, the EU would begin sending trade through the Turkish Cypriot port of Famagusta.

A question mark now hangs over the future of Turkey's EU accession talks and EU foreign ministers are expected to decide on the matter on 11 December.

"Together with the [European] Commission, we will prepare the decision on how we will handle the continuation of the accession negotiations," Mr Tuomioja said.

But he made it clear that Turkey would remain a candidate for EU membership.

Progress has been slow since negotiations on Turkey's accession bid began in October 2005.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded to counter a Greek Cypriot coup backed by the military junta ruling Greece at the time.




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