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Cyprus President: Turkey must sign protocol for accession talks to begin
2005-03-03 11:47:09

by Nicos Bellos

Brussels, Mar 3 (CNA) – The Cyprus issue and the two regulations for Turkish Cypriots which are pending before the EU Council of Ministers were the main issues examined during today’s working breakfast between Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and the Prime Minister of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt.

In statements after the meeting, President Papadopoulos stressed that if Turkey does not sign the protocol extending its customs union with the ten new member states, then Turkey’s accession negotiations with the EU will not start.

He also said they examined the Cyprus problem and prospects for a more active EU involvement in a new round of negotiations for Cyprus, as well as the two regulations for Turkish Cypriots, (259 million Euro assistance and direct trade with the occupied north of Cyprus).

Asked what was Verhofstadt’s response, President Papadopoulos said the Belgium Prime Minister and generally Belgium ''always supported our positions and I think they will continue the same stance in the future, this is the picture I have.”

Regarding Turkey signing the protocol expanding its customs union with the new EU member states, President Papadopoulos said that all those who met with him in the last days both in Luxembourg and Belgium as well as Commissioners consider resolute the European Council decision that Ankara should sign the protocol.

The faster they sign it, the less problems they will face in the future, said President Papadopoulos, adding he does not have any indication as to what Turkey intends to do but read that Ankara is raising legal issues as far as the protocol is concerned.

Asked about yesterday’s meeting in Brussels of a Turkish delegation with members of the legal service of the European Commission, the Cypriot president said that “the issue is clear: If Turkey does not sign the protocol for its customs union, accession negotiations will not begin”.

President Papadopoulos returns to Cyprus later this evening.

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