Turkey says Cyprus crisis is chance t...

Turkey says Cyprus crisis is chance to end division

Posted in the Cyprus Forum

Since: Mar 10

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#1 Apr 3, 2013
4 April 2013 /REUTERS, VILNIUS

Turkish President Abdullah Gül said on Wednesday the financial crisis in Greek Cyprus presented an "important opportunity" to end the division of the island, split between the Greek Cypriot south and Turkish north.
The Mediterranean island concluded a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bailout deal with the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday in order to stave off bankruptcy.
It has been divided since a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by a Turkish intervention in the north in 1974. Efforts to reunite it have repeatedly failed and Turkey is the only nation to recognise the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
"There is at the moment significant economic crisis on the island. This should be seen as important opportunity ... Because if the island was to unite, there would be a greater economic potential," Gül said during an official visit to Lithuania.
"There are some restrictions, embargoes on the island. Our suggestion is to lift any and all kinds of restriction or embargo simultaneously so that we can create a new climate for moving forward," he said.
"I hope that this message will be well understood."
Turkey's failure to extend a customs agreement with the European Union by opening its ports to goods from Greek Cyprus has hindered its ambitions to join the EU.
Turkey began EU entry talks in 2005, a year after Greek Cyprus was admitted, but its bid has been blocked by the intractable dispute over the island, as well as by long-standing opposition from core EU members Germany and France.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel highlighted the Greek Cyprus dispute as a stumbling block when she visited Turkey in February.
Relations between Greece and Turkey have thawed over the years, making a resolution more imaginable than in the past.
Beset by economic crisis at home, Greece last month pledged to double annual trade with its eastern neighbour to $10 billion by 2015.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul and signed deals on issues ranging from agriculture to disaster relief.
Gül said the potential for cooperation between Turkey and Greece made the possible benefits of Cypriot reunification even greater.

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