Turkey Holds Firm on Foreign Policy; Attempts to Minimize Impact of EU Threat to Stop Accession Talks

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 2, 2006 | Go to article overview

Turkey Holds Firm on Foreign Policy; Attempts to Minimize Impact of EU Threat to Stop Accession Talks


Byline: Andrew Borowiec, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

NICOSIA, Cyprus - The Turkish government this week tried to minimize the impact of the European Union's threat to partially freeze accession talks, saying its foreign policy remained unchanged.

The watchword in Ankara's official circles is "continuation in the same direction," said a senior official, who rejected EU insistence that Turkey must open its airports and harbors to traffic from Cyprus.

In Cyprus, the Greek Cypriot government said the bloc was giving Turkey too much leeway, thus damaging efforts to find a solution to the Mediterranean island's partition.

Despite the EU threat to freeze eight key aspects of the accession talks, Turkish officials said the Greek Cypriot air and maritime traffic would be allowed only after an economic boycott of the Turkish Cypriot zone in the north of the island is lifted.

On Wednesday, the European Commission, the EU executive body, rejected Turkey's condition, stressing that all candidates for membership in the 25-nation bloc must conform to its rules.

"It's Turkey, which should adjust to EU regulations, and not vice versa," an EU official said, stressing that Turkey was a signatory to the protocol governing trade relations with the 10 latest EU members, including Cyprus.

EU officials said the proposed halt in discussions of eight of the 35 "accession chapters" would be applied only after approval at the EU summit meeting in mid-December. Some EU heads of government, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, say the bloc should refrain from "sending a negative signal" to Turkey, a predominantly Muslim nation of 70 million. …

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