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Finnish Presidency says circumstances did not permit agreement
2006-11-27 08:53:56

Nicosia, Nov 27 - Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja said today that at this stage circumstances do not permit that an agreement could be reached during the Finnish Presidency of the EU on an effort to avert a crisis between the EU and Turkey, noting however that all parties have cooperated constructively with the presidency.

In a press release, the Finnish Presidency says it has held ''intensive consultations at political and officials' level with all parties'' with the objective of finding ''a solution that would enable the uninterrupted continuation of Turkey's accession process and would improve the situation of both communities in Cyprus.''

''This morning, I met first with the Cypriot Foreign Minister Lillikas and later had a meeting with the Turkish Foreign Minister Gul. Unfortunately, we have come to conclusion that at this stage circumstances do not permit that an agreement could be reached during the Finnish Presidency,'' Mr. Tuomioja said.

According to Mr. Tuomioja, all parties have cooperated constructively with the Presidency. The Presidency also appreciates the strong support that it has received from EU member states and other partners, including the UN, the press release says.

''The Presidency will immediately, together with the Commission, start preparing the handling of the continuation of Turkey's EU accession negotiations. Our intention is that the General Affairs Council on December 11 will decide on the matter,'' Mr. Tuomiojia noted.

He added that ''the aim has not been to resolve the Cyprus problem,'' and noted however that ''the successful conclusion of our talks would also have been an encouraging step forward in view of the UN efforts to this end, for which the Finnish Presidency continues to give its full support.''

''We welcome the positive replies from the leaders of the two communities to the proposals suggested by Under-Secretary General Gambari. It is important that this work starts quickly and leads to the resumption of talks on a comprehensive settlement,'' he concluded.

The Finnish Presidency of the EU conducted negotiations to reach an agreement in order to prevent a crisis between the EU and Turkey.

The Cypriot government has stressed that the precondition for the success of the Finnish EU presidency's initiative is the return of Varosha to its legitimate inhabitants.

Cyprus, which joined the EU in May 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

Turkey, a country aspiring to become an EU member state, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus and refuses to implement the EU-Turkey Customs Union Protocol, which provides for the opening of its ports and airports to Cyprus.

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