Despite mounting pressure from the European Union to open its ports and airports to the Greek half of Cyprus, Turkey will not be doing so until a settlement on the divided island is reached, a senior state official has said, the online edition of Turkish Zaman daily writes.
Turkey strongly believes that the EU has not been constructive in its efforts for a permanent solution on the island and has rejected out of hand a proposal to open two more chapters of negotiation if Turkey complies with the EU’s demand. Turkey started its accession talks in 2005, but progress has been slow, largely because of the dispute over Cyprus. Turkey refuses to open its ports and airports to traffic from Greek Cyprus, urging the EU to first end the isolation of Turkish Cyprus as it promised back in 2004, following a referendum on a UN reunification plan in both parts of the island – accepted by the Turkish Cypriots and rejected by the Greek Cypriots.
The EU insists that Turkey is obliged to open its ports and airports to traffic from Greek Cyprus under an agreement known as the Ankara Protocol. There have been intensified efforts in the past two months to overcome this obstacle. In a recent attempt, Belgium, which is currently chairing the EU presidency, promised Turkey that two more chapters of negotiation would be opened in return for complying with the Ankara Protocol.
A senior government official who has asked to remain unnamed told Today’s Zaman that opening ports and airports to Greek Cyprus would be out of the question until a permanent settlement is found.