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Saturday, March 14, 1998 Published at 15:02 GMT



World

EU resolves Cyprus row
image: [ The divided island has also split EU members ]
The divided island has also split EU members

EU foreign ministers say they have reached agreement on membership negotiations for Cyprus - settling or at least postponing a dispute which had threatened to block the start of negotiations with the other five countries in the latest round of expansion.

The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, who was chairing the meeting in Edinburgh on behalf of the UK's presidency of the EU, expressed great satisfaction that the immediate problem had been overcome.


[ image: Robin Cook: work still to be done]
Robin Cook: work still to be done
France had wanted to delay negotiations with the divided island until both sides - both Greek and Turkish Cypriots - took part.

Their proposal would have made it possible for the negotiations to be suspended if it turned out that only the Greek Cypriot part of the island - with the internationally recognized government - and not the Turkish-controlled north, would be admitted to the European Union.

In response, Greece, already an EU member, gave a veiled warning that it would block the other five countries - Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and the Czech republic - from joining.

The EU foreign ministers agreed to open membership talks with Cyprus at the end of this month, even if Turkish Cypriots were not in the island's delegation.

On Thursday, the Cyprus President, Glafcos Clerides, offered Turkish Cypriots an opportunity to join a joint negotiating team.

It was rejected out of hand by politicians in the north, who are demanding an acknowledgement that two separate states exist on Cyprus.

They say the membership application is illegal as the Greek Cypriot government submitted the application on behalf of the Cypriot people as a whole.


[ image: Theodore Pangalos:  infuriated by France's stance]
Theodore Pangalos: infuriated by France's stance
Turkish Cypriots rule out the possibility of EU membership before Turkey itself joins the EU, but Turkey's continued poor human rights' record means it will remain excluded from current negotiations.

Turkey, whose troops have occupied northern Cyprus since their invasion of 1974, has declared that if Cyprus joins the EU while the island is still divided, the Turkish part of the island will be joining Turkey.

The Greek foreign minister, Theodore Pangalos, said it would have been "unfair to make Cyprus the hostage of another country."


 





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  Relevant Stories

10 Mar 98 | Special Report
A wider union

10 Mar 98 | Special Report
Cyprus: country report

05 Mar 98 | World
EU envoys to Cyprus try to remove deadlock

15 Feb 98 | World
Clerides wins Cyprus presidential race

 
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