Turkish offer to trade with Cyprus 'not enough', says EU leader

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The Independent Online

A Turkish offer to open a port and an airport to trade with Cyprus was yesterday rejected as insufficient to stave off a crisis in Ankara's bid for EU membership.

Matti Vanhanen, the Prime Minister of Finland, which holds the EU presidency, said the move was not enough but that it was a "positive signal".

Speaking in Brussels, Mehmet Ali Talat, the prime minister of Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, conceded that the offer was unlikely to be successful because of opposition from the internationally recognised government of Cyprus.

Mr Talat said the proposal was part of "a package" which also calls for the reciprocal opening of a port and airport in northern Cyprus, which is under an economic embargo. If that was not put into place it would deal "a really harmful blow" to the Turkish-Cypriot economy, he said.

Turkey has promised to honour a pledge to open its ports to Cyprus. But, in return, it is determined to force the EU to honour a promise to ease the plight of northern Cyprus.

On Monday, EU foreign ministers will discuss proposals to freeze around a quarter of Turkey's EU membership negotiations. But the issue may be divisive at next Thursday's EU summit in Brussels.

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