Cyprus government: French Premier's statement on Turkey-EU ''particularly positive''
Nicosia, Aug 4 (CNA) – Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides described as ''particularly positive'' a statement by French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin that it doesn't seem conceivable that a negotiation process of whatever kind can start with a country that does not recognise all EU members.
Commenting on the statement referring to Turkey's bid to start accession talks, Chrysostomides said ''we have always stated that it is inconceivable for a country that wants to accede into the EU not to recognise a full EU member state.''
Click below for a collection of press reports on Prime Minister de Villepin's statements regarding Turkey and Cyprus from Reuters, the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Washington Times, and the Los Angeles Times.
Turkey, France clash over Cyprus as EU talks loom
By Gareth Jones
ANKARA, Aug 4 - Turkey and France clashed on Thursday over whether Ankara should recognise Cyprus, a European Union member, before it begins its own EU entry talks on Oct. 3.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey could not accept any new conditions for opening the talks and said he had been upset by comments from France that Ankara must first accept the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government.
"It is out of the question for us to discuss or consider any new conditions with regard to Oct. 3," Erdogan told reporters in televised comments.
"We are saddened by the statements of the French prime minister and of President (Jacques) Chirac," he added.
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said on Tuesday it was "inconceivable" that Turkey start talks with the EU without recognising one of its 25 member states, though he did not say Paris would deploy its veto.
Chirac has not publicly commented on Turkey's EU talks this week, but the French daily Le Figaro, quoting unnamed ministers, reported that the president had told a cabinet meeting he agreed with his prime minister.
Chirac's office declined to comment on the report. Chirac has traditionally backed Turkey's EU bid but now faces growing opposition among French voters to admitting the large, relatively poor, mainly Muslim country into the wealthy bloc.
Maintaining pressure on Ankara, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy repeated Villepin's criticism on Thursday.
"Not wanting to recognise one country in the Union while wanting to join, that's not acceptable," Douste-Blazy told Le Monde newspaper in an interview.
"We would like there to be an extensive discussion on this question within the EU."
Ankara recognises only a breakaway Turkish Cypriot enclave in the north of Cyprus. The island has been split along ethnic lines since Turkish troops invaded in 1974 after a brief Greek Cypriot coup backed by the military junta then ruling Greece.
France can block the start of talks -- as can Cyprus -- as the 25 EU states must approve a negotiating mandate unanimously before they can begin. Villepin said France would decide its position after talks among EU foreign ministers in September.
Turkey cleared the last formal hurdle to the start of its entry talks last Friday by signing a protocol extending its customs union to new EU members including Cyprus.
But Ankara also issued a declaration making clear the signing did not mean a change in its stance over the island, whose Greek Cypriot government is viewed in Brussels as the sole legitimate authority.
Turkey says recognition can come only after a comprehensive peace settlement on the Mediterranean island.
Ankara believes it has done all it can reasonably be expected to do on Cyprus by backing a U.N.-brokered peace deal last year which Turkish Cypriots also endorsed in a referendum. The plan was scuppered by the Greek Cypriots.
Despite the latest French comments, Erdogan said he was confident Turkey would begin entry talks on schedule.
"We will start the negotiations on Oct. 3. We think only of the negotiations," Erdogan said.
The talks are expected to last many years and Turkey is not seen joining the EU before 2015 at the earliest.
The Financial Times
Recognise Cyprus, de Villepin tells Turkey
By Vincent Boland in Ankara, Peggy Hollinger in Paris and Raphael Minder in Brussels
Published: August 3 2005
Dominique de Villepin, French prime minister, placed a potential new condition yesterday on Turkey's opening of membership talks with the European Union, saying it was "inconceivable" the process could begin unless Ankara recognised the government of Cyprus.
His remarks raised the stakes for Turkey two months before it is to start entry talks and two weeks before a Brussels meeting at which its stance on Cyprus will be in the spotlight.
Ankara agreed on Friday to extend its existing agreements with the EU to include all 25 member states, but made clear that doing so did not mean it recognised the government of Cyprus.
The international community recognises the Greek Cypriot government as representing the whole island; Turkey recognises only the government of the Turkish Cypriot north. Its recognition of Cyprus has not so far been a condition for the start of its EU accession process.
Mr de Villepin suggested yesterday that it should be a condition. "The EU accession process cannot start with a country that does not recognise each one of its members. France will make this clear to Turkey and to other EU countries at the next meeting," he said during a radio show.
He said it was possible entry talks, slated to start on October 3, could be delayed, which would anger Turkey.
Abdullah Gul, Turkish foreign minister, said Ankara had fulfilled the requirements for talks to start. "We expect France to continue to support Turkey's EU membership," he said in Saudi Arabia, in remarks carried by the Anatolian news agency. "We expect the EU to start entry talks on October 3" in line with a unanimous decision of EU political leaders in December.
Diplomats in Ankara said that, when it extended its EU agreements to all members, Turkey said it would be prepared to change its stance on Cyprus if a "comprehensive and permanent" solution to the island's division was forthcoming. For domestic political reasons, they said, no Turkish government could recognise Cyprus in any other circumstances.
In setting Turkey an ultimatum on Cyprus, Mr de Villepin is playing to the gallery in France, where opposition to Turkish membership is high. He also seems to be differentiating himself from Jacques Chirac, French president, a supporter of Turkish accession. The constitutional referendum defeat in France in May was fuelled partly by opposition to Turkey joining the EU and dissatisfaction with Mr Chirac. Mr de Villepin has been more cautious since becoming prime minister two months ago.
Mr de Villepin's remarks were not a "definitive statement" of the French position on Turkey, the European Commission said. It warned France against undermining the terms of last December's EU invitation to Ankara to join the EU.
The New York Times
August 3, 2005
FRANCE DEMANDS THAT TURKEY RECOGNIZE CYPRUS France raised a potential new hurdle to Turkey's starting European Union membership talks in October, saying that Turkey must first recognize Cyprus. Cyprus, divided since 1974 by a Greek population in the south and a Turkish population in the north, entered the European Union last year under the Greek Cypriot government. "It doesn't seem conceivable to me that a negotiation process of whatever kind can start with a country that does not recognize every member state of the European Union, in other words all 25 of them," said France's prime minister, Dominique de Villepin. Asked whether that meant that the start of entry talks could be delayed from Oct. 3, he said, "Of course." Greece, meanwhile, increased pressure over the divided island by postponing a planned visit by Prime Minister Costas Caramanlis to Turkey this month that would have been the first by a Greek premier in more than 46 years. (Reuters)
The Washington Times
August 3, 2005
France wants Turkey to recognize Cyprus
PARIS -- France raised a potential new hurdle yesterday to Turkey starting European Union membership talks in October, saying Ankara must first recognize Cyprus.
The executive European Commission and EU President Britain said the 25 EU states had never made recognition a prerequisite for opening negotiations and the Cyprus question should be dealt with separately in a U.N. framework.
A Turkish official said the call by French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin was an attempt to violate commitments the EU had made to Ankara last year, but Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said he still expected France's support.
The Los Angeles Times
IN BRIEF / FRANCE
Paris Raises Cyprus Issue With Turkey
From Times Wire Reports
August 3, 2005
France raised a potential new hurdle to starting European Union membership talks with Turkey in October, saying Ankara must recognize EU member Cyprus first.
The European Commission disagreed, saying the Cyprus question should be dealt with in a United Nations framework.
Turkey signed an EU protocol Friday but issued a declaration stipulating that the act did not signify recognition of the Greek Cypriot government.
Turkey backs a Turkish Cypriot breakaway state in northern Cyprus.