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Straw: Commission regulations do not recognise northern Cyprus
2005-02-07 14:35:55

by Kyriacos Tsioupras

London, Feb 5 (CNA) -- Two European Commission regulations on financial aid to the Turkish Cypriots and direct trade between the EU and Cyprus' Turkish occupied areas are not tantamount to recognition of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has said.

''This is not for a moment the same as recognizing northern Cyprus as a separate state,'' he told the House of Commons, replying to questions.

On the presence of Turkish occupation troops in Cyprus, Straw said the stationing of 35,000 troops in the north is a very sensitive issue for both the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots.

He pointed out that ''there has to be a process that secures consent from each side'' for the removal of these troops.

Straw was replying to a question by Labour MP Eric Illsley if he could use this October's accession negotiations with Turkey to try to find some common ground by persuading Turkey to remove its troops from the north and to reach some accommodation with Cyprus.

He said both Cyprus and Turkey look forward to one product of Turkey's ultimate accession and membership, being complete normalisation of its relations with Cyprus, including recognition of that state.

Replying to another question by Labour MP Andrew Dismore about a possible de-linking of the two EU regulations (on financial aid and direct trade), Straw said it is initially for the Commission to make proposals about the linkage or otherwise of the regulations.

''That is not for a moment the same as recognising northern Cyprus as a separate state, but it will benefit the northern Cypriots and it acknowledges that they voted in substantial numbers in favour of the Annan plan. It is a matter of great regret that both the regulations have, in practice, been blocked by one member state since then'', he concluded.

Turkish Cypriot party leader Mehmet Ali Talat has said he would not accept EU funding unless direct trade is approved by the Commission.

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