Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/us/turkey : Washington Insists It's Not Meddling in Cyprus Row

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/us/turkey : Washington Insists It's Not Meddling in Cyprus Row

Article excerpt

The United States has not taken steps to resolve the current impasse in Turkey's EU accession talks and has no plans to do so, a senior State Department official has told Europolitics. "We cannot intervene now. Things are at endgame stage and there is no role for us," Matthew Bryza, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, said on 20 November in an exclusive interview. He was responding to reports of US moves to help its long-time ally Turkey out of its tricky predicament, which centres on Ankara's refusal to let Greek Cypriot ships and planes enter its ports and airports.

Bryza, the lead State Department official on this dossier, said he had "no meetings" on it when he visited Brussels last week. The reason he was in town was to meet the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers to discuss the disputed province of Nagorno-Karabakh, he said. He admitted he was playing a mediating role earlier this summer but that "once the Finnish EU Presidency got active, we backed off". Bryza said unless the EU Presidency asked the US to get involved, it would not do so. The Finns have set 6 December as the deadline for reaching agreement on the Cyprus issue as they do not want it to plague the 14/15 December European Council. EU leaders are due to decide there whether or not to suspend accession talks with Turkey given the slowdown in the Turkish reform process noted by the European Commission in its 8 November report.

ROOM FOR MANOEUVRE

Bryza said that when the EU first agreed to open accession talks, it did not set a clear deadline for Turkey to apply the Ankara Protocol (the agreement that requires Turkey to open its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and planes). …

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