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Last Updated: Monday, 27 November 2006, 17:48 GMT
Turkey's EU bid risks paralysis
A destroyed Cyprus Airways plane in the UN buffer zone in Cyprus
A UN buffer zone still divides Greek and Turkish Cypriots
Turkey's EU accession talks are set to slow down following Ankara's failure to open up Turkish ports to traffic from Cyprus, the EU has signalled.

"Negotiations will not be stopped or frozen, they will continue more slowly," said EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn.

Earlier, Finland - the current EU president - said EU-Turkey talks on the Cyprus dispute had reached deadlock.

Turkey wants the EU to ease its embargo on Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus.

But 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.

Tough decision

Mr Rehn will have a large role in deciding what recommendations the European Commission makes to EU foreign ministers in just over a week's time, the BBC's Jonny Dymond reports from Brussels.

The foreign ministers are expected to decide on the matter on 11 December.

Business as usual cannot continue
Erkki Tuomioja
Finnish Foreign Minister

The EU had demanded that Turkey open its ports to traffic from Cyprus, whose government Turkey refuses to recognise.

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

Our correspondent says Mr Rehn is leaning towards a partial suspension of the EU-Turkey negotiations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel - whose country assumes the presidency in January - warned that in the absence of any breakthrough "there cannot be a simple 'let's carry on as we are' in the negotiations with Turkey".

She told her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party that "it is and was right to offer Turkey a privileged partnership with the EU, rather than full membership".

Plan rebuffed

Earlier on Monday Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja held separate meetings with the Turkish and Cypriot foreign ministers - Abdullah Gul and George Lillikas - in a last-ditch effort to break the impasse.

"Business as usual cannot continue," he said after the talks collapsed.

Mr Gul accused Cyprus of "hijacking" Turkey's accession negotiations.

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-controlled Cypriot port of Famagusta.

Mr Tuomioja said that despite the impasse, 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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