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Turkish and EU flags fly side-by-side in front of a mosque in Istanbul
Bavarian conservatives oppose Turkish entry into the EUImage: AP

Turkish tensions

July 20, 2011

A leading Bavarian conservative has said the EU should break off its accession talks with Turkey, if the country goes ahead with its threatened boycott during Cyprus' presidency of the bloc.


A top German conservative has said the EU should break off entry talks with Turkey, if the country implements Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's threat to freeze relations with the EU during Cyprus' tenure as president of the bloc in the second half of 2012.

The secretary general of Bavaria's CSU arm of the Christian Democrats, Alexander Dobrindt, said that anyone who would stop talking to the European Union has no business seeking membership in the bloc.

"The EU cannot continue to tolerate Erdogan's threats and attempts at blackmail," Dobrindt said in an interview to be published in Thursday's edition of the Münchner Merkur newspaper. "Once again, Erdogan is insulting an EU member, and the only response to that can be to definitively break off accession talks with Turkey."

Erdogan's freeze threat

Speaking in the Turkish-occupied northern segment of Cyprus on Wednesday, on the 37th anniversary of Turkish troops' arrival in the territory, Erdogan said that time was running out for a negotiated peace settlement on the divided island.

"Everyone should know the existing window of opportunity on Cyprus will not always be open. The North Cyprus Turkish side is working for peace and solutions against all injustices. It's not bearable anymore," Erdogan said at the military parade.

Erdogan celebrates in front of supporters after his recent election win
Perhaps buoyed by his reelection, Erdogan is talking toughImage: picture alliance/dpa

Turkey is the only country to recognize the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as a separate state, whereas the southern Greek Cypriot side has been a fully-fledged member of the European Union since 2004. Cyprus and Turkey are barely on speaking terms - save for the occasional UN-brokered peace talks - and Erdogan said that when Cyprus takes over the EU presidency on July 1, 2012, Turkey would freeze its ties with the EU.

"In the event that the Greek side takes over the EU presidency in 2012 without a solution to the Cyprus issue, I am saying clearly that Turkey's relations with the EU will be completely frozen."

The UN is trying to get Turkey and Cyprus to agree terms for a possible reunification of the island, with a possible referendum pencilled in for early next year - before southern Cyprus would take up the EU presidency. The last such vote failed in 2004 when Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected reunification.

As an EU member, Cyprus can veto the entry of any other applicant seeking join the bloc, and this remains the single biggest impediment to Turkey's effectively stalled bid to enter the European Union.

Nevertheless, the EU is Turkey's largest trading partner. Officials in Ankara said on Wednesday that any freeze in relations would not put a stop to continued trading or direct talks with the EU Commission and other such centralized bodies.

Dobrindt's CSU party categorically opposes full Turkish membership of the EU, primarily on cultural and religious grounds.

Author: Mark Hallam (AFP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Susan Houlton

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