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    Cyprus, Greece leaders back Turkey's full EU membership

    Hurriyet Daily News with wires
    23.04.2009 - 12:11 | Son Güncelleme: 23.04.2009 - 12:14

    ISTANBUL - The leaders of Cyprus and Greece said Wednesday they continue to back Turkey's full membership of the European Union despite their disappointment at the lack of progress in talks to reunify the island, AP reported.

    Greek Cyprus leader Dimitris Christofias and Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis made the remarks at a meeting in Nicosia, on the Mediterranean island, the agency reported.

     

    "We support Turkey's course to accession because we believe that a Turkey which adopts European codes of conduct would be better for its citizens, for the entire EU and for its neighbors," Karamanlis said at a joint news conference.

      

    The European Union has frozen part of its membership negotiations with Turkey over that country's refusal to recognize Cyprus, a member of the EU, and to open its ports to the island nation.

     

    Cyprus has been split since 1964 when Turkish Cypriots were forced to withdraw into enclaves.

     

    Relaunched in September 2008 after a four-year hiatus, Mehmet Ali Talat, Turkish Cypriot leader and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Christofias have been involved in reunification talks aimed at reaching an agreement to end the island's decades-long division. Talat has been negotiating for a bi-zonal federation with  Christofias, in talks launched after a four-year hiatus.

     

    Christofias, said on Wednesday they had failed to make the progress anticipated.

     

    Turkish Cypriots overwhelmingly supported the U.N.-sponsored blueprint in the referendum held in 2004, when previous efforts collapsed after it was rejected by Greek Cypriots. The European Union has since pledged to implement a free trade regulation to ease the isolations on the Turkish community on the island

     

    LEADERS OPPOSE "SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP" 

    Christofias and Karamanlis said they oppose the idea of awarding Turkey a "special relationship" with the EU instead of full membership - insisting Ankara should continue to strive toward fulfilling all membership criteria.

      

    Karamanlis said Turkey's accession progress has so far been "unsatisfactory" but that would not prompt either Greece or Cyprus to shift policy.

      

    Christofias and Talat resumed talks this week. The meeting was held after weekend Turkish Cypriot elections that could complicate negotiations following the victory of a nationalist party opposed to reunifying the island as a single state.  

     

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