Turkey will 'freeze' EU ties over Cyprus presidency

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The Independent Online

Turkey has said it will freeze relations with the European Union if Cyprus is given the presidency in 2012, signalling a new low point for Turkey's relations with the EU since it began accession talks to the bloc in 2005.

The comments come at a time of heightened tension in the eastern Mediterranean where Turkey is locked in a row with Cyprus over offshore gas deposits and Turkey's relations with Israel are frayed.

"If the EU gives its presidency to southern Cyprus, the real crisis will be between Turkey and the EU," state-run news agency Anatolian quoted Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay as saying. "Because we will then freeze our relations with the EU. We have made this announcement, as a government we have made this decision."

The internationally-recognised Greek Cypriot government is due to take on the rotating EU presidency in July 2012. Cyprus has been divided since a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup.