Turkish Cypriots Suspend Talks
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Turkish Cypriots have suspended U.N.-sponsored unification talks with Greek Cypriots to protest the inclusion of the Greek side in European Union membership talks, a news agency reported Saturday.
Earlier this month the EU included Cyprus in the group of 11 countries beginning membership talks in March but excluded Turkey because of human rights abuses, the presence of 30,000 Turkish troops on Cyprus and sour relations with Greece.
The last high-level round of U.N.-brokered talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots broke down in August after the EU reaffirmed that it would begin membership talks with the Greek-led Cypriot government.
Lower-level talks between Turkish and Greek Cypriot officials had continued, however, and those were the ones reported suspended.
``We suspended talks pending review of the situation that emerged after the EU decision,″ the Turkish Cypriot TAK news agency quoted Taner Etkin, foreign minister of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot republic, as saying in a statement Friday.
Turkish President Suleyman Demirel told reporters here on Saturday that Turkey would take steps toward integration with the Turkish Cypriots. He cited the EU decision and the Greek Cypriot plan to buy Russian missiles as the motivation.
Demirel did not spell out what he meant by integration.
Turkey has been saying that admission of Cyprus into the EU would amount to a union between Cyprus and Greece, already an EU member.
Demirel insisted, however, that Turkey will remain on the EU track. ``Turkey is a part of tomorrow’s Europe,″ he said.
Turkey, a secular but predominantly Muslim country that belongs to NATO, first applied for EU membership a decade ago. It suspended talks with the EU on human rights and disputes with Greece and Cyprus after being excluded from membership talks earlier this month.
Cyprus has been unofficially partitioned since Turkey invaded its northern third in 1974 in the wake of an Athens-backed coup by supporters of union with Greece.
The breakaway Turkish Cypriot state proclaimed in the north is recognized only by Turkey.