Erdogan warns of "freeze" with EU if no progress in Cypriot issue
Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that Ankara would "freeze" relations with the European Union next year if there is no progress in the Cypriot reconciliation talks, according to remarks published Tuesday, reported dpa.
Erdogan said the move would take place for the six months of the Cypriot presidency next year, in the remarks reported after meeting Turkish Cypriot journalists in his party headquarters late Monday.
"It is out of the question for us to meet Greek Cypriots. We don't meet a country which we don't recognise," he said.
The internationally recognized government of Cyprus, which is dominated by Greek Cypriots, is due to take over the rotating presidency of the European Union (EU) in July 2012.
Turkey has long rebuffed what it calls the Greek Cypriot administration as it does not represent the island9s Turkish Cypriot minority, which lives in the Turkish-occupied north of the island.
"Relations with the EU will freeze. There will not be any relation between Turkey and the EU for six months," Erdogan was quoted as saying by the news agency Anadolu.
"We even consider it degrading to sit at the same table with the Greek Cypriot administration in the United Nations," Erdogan added.
Turkey has long held that the EU made a mistake by admitting Cyprus before the island had been reconciled.
It is opposed to the EU taking a prominent role in the reconciliation talks - which have been chaired by a UN envoy since they resumed in 2008 - arguing that Cyprus9 membership of the EU, and that of its ally Greece, means that the Union cannot be impartial.
"We will see whether this (Cyprus reconciliation) issue will be concluded in 2012 or not. If they don't conclude this issue in 2012, we will be on our own way," Erdogan said, according to Anadolu.
Cyprus has been divided into a Greek-speaking south and a Turkish-occupied north since July, 1974 when, following a Greece-inspired coup, the Turkish military invaded the island.
In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots set up a breakaway administration, the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, but Ankara is the only government that recognises it. Turkey maintains more than 30,000 troops on the northern third of the island.