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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Opposition accused of echoing Turkish line

"Opposition accused of echoing Turkish line
By Elias Hazou

TURKEY�S confirmation earlier in the week that it had agreed to the text of the EU customs union protocol may not have been controversial � at least procedure-wise � but that did not prevent politicians back home from coming to blows.

The spat ignited when DISY boss Nicos Anastassiades said on Tuesday Ankara�s signing of the protocol was enough for the European Union to begin accession negotiations with Turkey.
The conclusions of the December EU summit made no reference to Turkey�s obligation to implement the protocol before October 3, the date for the start of accession negotiations.

However, for obvious reasons, the government wants guarantees that Turkey will implement the protocol � and all that entails � if it is to consent to Turkish accession talks come October.
But to the government�s chagrin, Ankara insists that signing the protocol does not mean it will not open its harbours and ports to Cypriot ships and planes.

Anastassiades� comments provoked an angry outburst by President Papadopoulos, who hinted that some quarters in Cyprus seemed to share Turkish intentions.

�The statements by Turkish government officials are being repeated, in Greek, by certain people inside the Republic of Cyprus,� Papadopoulos jibed."

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