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    Turkish Cypriot FM slams France over military drills

    Hurriyet English with wires
    28.05.2008 - 12:19 | Son Güncelleme:

    France, due to take over of the rotating EU presidency on June 1, should revise its stance regarding the planned joint military exercise with the Greek Cypriot administration, Turkish Cypriot FM Turgay Avci told the Anatolian Agency on Wednesday.

    Avci denounced France's participation in the June 2-6 drills as a partial stance in favour of the Greek Cypriots at a time when efforts are under way to revive talks to reunify the island.    

    "France's participation in the exercises cannot be seen as a sign of goodwill at a time when France is preparing to take over the EU presidency and when a negotiation process is under way in Cyprus," he told Anatolia in an interview, calling on Paris to "carefully review" its decision.

    The Greek Cypriots announced last week it would be holding search and rescue and crisis management exercises, called "Argonaftis", involving the sea and air forces of Greek Cypriots, Greece and France.

    The drills will be conducted in the ethnically divided island's Greek Cypriot south and international waters in the Mediterranean.

    "France should analyse (its decision) once again," Avci said. "They have already been imposing unfair isolation on Turkish Cypriots. There are unfulfilled pledges. Such one-sided approaches providing advantage to Greek Cypriots, reinforcing and pampering them, are not proper attitudes," he added.

    He also said last week's meeting between the leaders of Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides was favorable. However, he said Turkish Cypriots would not accept a timetable with an unlimited period to elongate the process.

    Talat and Christofias met last Friday to review preparations for starting direct talks, but disagreed on a start date. Greek Cypriot government officials have said that negotiators had not made enough progress on some of the more sensitive issues to start direct talks.

    "We are in favor of a comprehensive, fair and equal solution in the shortest time. Talks can not be unlimited or indefinite," Avci said.

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