Turkish Cypriots more important for Turkey than EU: minister
If Turkey has to choose between Turkish Cypriots and the EU, it will choose Turkish Cypriots and everyone should understand why, State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Chichk was quoted as saying by the Turkish Weekly journal.
Turkey seeks to resolve the Cyprus problem, which has lingered for decades, but this does not mean a truce will be accepted at any cost, Chichek said last weekend. He warned that no one has the right to pressure Turkey in its choice between EU membership and Northern Cyprus.
While addressing an official parade in Lefkosa on the occasion of the twenty-sixth anniversary of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Chichek expressed the country's support for comprehensive settlement talks in Cyprus under the auspices of the U.N. He noted that Turkey stands by the Turkish Cypriots who actively and sincerely partake in the talks.
Leaders of Cyprus' Turkish and Greek territories Mehmet Ali Talat and Demetris Christofias broke off the four-year negotiations in March 2008. The parties are urged to resume peace talks to unite the island state.
Turkey wants a settlement to the Cyprus issue, but not at all costs, Chichek said.
"Turkey would not support just any settlement in Cyprus, ruling out any solution depriving the Turkish Cypriots of their legitimate rights," he said, adding that settlement talks cannot go on indefinately.
"We will never allow the integrity of the settlement to be corroded within the EU," said Chichek.
The minister said a comprehensive settlement to the issue should be a partnership bringing together the island on the basis of two equal communities with political equality - a single bi-zonal republic with two equal founding states.
Turkey's reply to those who use the Cyprus issue as leverage against Turkey in accession talks with the EU will always be standing by the Turkish Cypriots, Chichek said.
The main stumbling block remains the issue of the Greek Cypriots who demand the application of EU legislation immediately after the unification of the island.
Ankara does not recognize the EU membership of Cyprus' Greek territory, which joined the organization in 2004.