Gul says Turkey's EU protocol not recognition of Cyprus
by Kyriakos Tsioupras
London, Mar 15 (CNA) -- Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gul said after a meeting yesterday in London with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw that Turkey will sign the protocol extending its customs union to the new EU member-states but noted that in the case of Cyprus this would not mean the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus.
Straw said Britain recognises the ''good faith'' of Turkey on this issue and pointed out that it was not the responsibility of the Turkish government that the protocol has not yet been signed.
?n his opening remarks at a press conference after his meeting with Gul, Straw said they had a wide range of discussion on the EU, bilateral and international issues, Turkey's prospects for Europe, Iraq, the Middle East and the Cyprus question, and agreed on the importance of all sides to focus all efforts on a full and comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Asked whether the issue of recognition would come up before October 3, when Turkey is set to commence accession negotiations with the EU, Straw said that a lot of practical work would have to be done on that issue, which would be resolved in time but in the context of Turkey's full membership of the EU.
Gul, when asked how Turkey planned to sign the protocol extending the customs union to the ten new members, including Cyprus, said that it is already functioning since May 1, 2004.
''The protocol will be signed. We declared it, we negotiated it, we do not see any problem there,'' he added.
Replying to other questions, Gull said that according to the constitution, the protocol will be signed not initialled and added that ''in any case it is not going to be recognition, we declared it.''
Commenting on the same issue, Straw said ''we recognise the good faith of Turkey on this issue'' and noted that ''the fact that it has not been signed is not the responsibility of the Turkish government.''
''There are certain issues which have arisen inside the European Commission and are the cause of the current delay. The Foreign Ministers have given cast iron guarantees that the minute the document is ready for signing it will be signed,'' he added.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory. Turkey is the only country in the world which does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus although a guarantor power of Cyprus' independence in 1960, together with Greece and Britain.