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Media Watch 2005

04 March 2005
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Stefanos Evripidou.
Comment: The following editorial appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 4 March 2005
‘We will block Turkey over protocol’

IF TURKEY does not sign the protocol extending its customs union with the ten new member states, including Cyprus, before October 3 then Turkey’s accession negotiations with the EU will not start, President Tassos Papadopoulos told reporters after his meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt yesterday.

During yesterday’s working breakfast in Brussels, the two leaders discussed the Cyprus issue and the two regulations on aid to Turkish Cypriots and direct trade pending before the EU Council of Ministers.

After the meeting, Papadopoulos stressed in plain and simple terms: “The issue is clear: if Turkey does not sign the protocol for its customs union, accession negotiations will not begin.”

He said the two leaders also discussed prospects for a more active EU involvement in a new round of negotiations for Cyprus.

The president said that all those who met with him in the last days both in Luxembourg and Belgium, including EU Commissioners, considered ‘resolute’ the European Council decision stipulating that Ankara should sign the protocol before October 3.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn reinforced this view during an interview on Turkish television yesterday where he stated clearly that Turkey had to sign the customs protocol. He also noted that the EU was examining the possibility of negotiations on the Cyprus problem starting in spring or summer.

The faster they sign the protocol, the fewer problems they will face in the future, said Papadopoulos, noting he had read that Ankara was raising legal issues on the protocol.
Asked for Verhofstadt’s response, Papadopoulos said the Belgian Prime Minister and generally Belgium “always supported our positions and I think they will continue the same stance in the future, this is the picture I have”.

Papadopoulos returned from Brussels last night without making any comments to reporters."