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    France wields Cyprus as an issue; stance towards Turkey hardens further

    Hürriyet Haber
    08.09.2005 - 00:00 | Son Güncelleme:

    The French official line towards Turkey has once again hardened in the weeks preceding the start of the October 3 accession talks. France, which has been pushing for months to bring about an official recognition of Cyprus by Turkey, has insisted on an official timetable from Turkey on when it will do so. In pushing for Turkey to recognize Southern Cyprus, the Paris administration has requested that an official declaration of this request be published for the entire EU to read. To this end, EU officials met yesterday in France to discuss the so-called "Cyprus Declaration." The French Ambassador to the EU also made a call for Turkey to put a definitive date on when it would recognize Southern Cyprus. There was no agreement yesterday on an EU declaration regarding Turkey and Cyprus; such a declaration is also being viewed as a response to Turkey's July 29 declaration that it did not in fact recognize Southern Cyprus. It is thought that an EU declaration calling on Turkey to recognize the Greek controlled part of the island will also call on Turkey to open its sea ports and airports to all of Cyprus. France thought to be using Cyprus as leverageIt is widely believed that France is using the Turkey-Cyprus issue as a leverage to gain public opinion support within its borders for a final "privileged partnership" for Turkey. The EU leader has also begun to mention a need to "revise" the December 17 decision of last year which allowed Turkey to move to the next level in seeking EU membership. There is talk in the French leadership of a need to prepare a "plan B" Turkey, based on the fact that the political climate is so different now than it was when the December 17 decision was made. A French authority speaking with the Hurriyet about the proposed "privileged partnership" status for Turkey said that "barring Turkey's recognition of an EU member country (Cyprus), accession talks can not go ahead." This same authority admitted that despite an April 2004 decision on the part of EU Foreign Ministers to "end the isolation of Northern Cyprus," no steps had yet been taken to do just that. First meeting without ChiracFor the first time ever since becoming French President in 1995, Jacques Chirac yesterday was not able to attend the meeting of the EU ministers. French PM Dominique de Villepin instead headed up the meeting.  
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