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AFP-Friday October 11, 10:45 PM
2002-10-12 12:14:12

Turkey to make no concession over Cyprus to get EU membership date
Turkey will make no concessions over Cyprus in order to win a date for the opening of its own talks for European Union membership, Turkish Foreign Minister Sukru Sina Gurel warned.

"There's a wrong idea making the rounds here according to which Turkey will give way over Cyprus in order to get a date from the EU. Such an expectation is fundamentally flawed," Gurel told a conference on ethnically divided Cyprus.

If the EU accepts the recommendation made Wednesday by its commission to accept a divided Cyprus as a member, it will be making a "historic mistake", he added Friday.

Turkey would then strengthen its ties with northern Cyprus and "we shall progress towards a common future," the minister said.

"Turkey and the TRNC (Turkish republic of northern Cyprus) will be freer than ever to go ahead with what they think they should do about their common future... The same kind of steps taken by the EU towards integration with Greek Cyprus will be taken by Turkey and the TRNC," Gurel told AFP Thursday.

Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines since 1974 when Turkey invaded its northern part in response to an Athens-engineered military coup in Nicosia aimed at uniting the island with Greece.

Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Glafcos Clerides have been holding UN-sponsored peace talks since January, with no visible progress.

The Turkish Cypriots and Ankara want Cyprus to be reunited in a loose confederation of two separate and equal states while the Greek Cypriots favor a federation of two zones.

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