Erdogan Defiant on Merkel's Cyprus Comments
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was defiant in the face of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's comments in Nicosia that Turkey is "not responding adequately" to the Greek-Cypriot side's willingness to make a compromise.
At a press conference in Doha, Erdogan said that the chancellor should 'make a research' about the history of the Cyprus problem: "apparently Ms. Merkel thinks that the Cyprus issue was a process which began during her political power. It is clear that she does not know about history of the Cyprus issue."
During her five-hour visit to Cyprus yesterday, Merkel said that "we want to do everything we can to overcome the problem of the division of the island for two reasons: First...because Germany was separated into two parts...Secondly Germany and Cyprus have particularly close and friendly relations, for example the recently-launched collaboration with the Max Planck Institute."
Germany is Cyprus' biggest trading partner and the number one country for the island's exports.
Commenting on the Cyprus problem, she said that Germany will support efforts to solve the problem and that the "solution must come from the people of Cyprus."
"We greatly appreciate the courage you show and the creativity and initiative you take to solve your problem. We see how many steps you do and we also see that the Turkish side does not respond adequately to your steps, which show that you're ready to make a compromise," said Merkel speaking at a joint press conference with President Demetris Christofias.
German Reunification Model for Cyprus?
Asked whether Germany's experience can help to solve the Cyprus problem, Merkel said that "in practice there are many things that are different in Cyprus than it was in Germany, So I doubt if we could use the reunification of Germany as a model. But when the negotiations move forward, Germany as a federal state can help contribute to the creation of the Cypriot state, but we expect talks to be stepped up."
Turkey's EU Accession Course
Remarking on Turkey's EU accession course, Merkel said that "we definitely will continue the accession negotiations of Turkey, regardless of what the decision will be at the end, and what form (the relationship between the EU and Turkey) will take at the end," she said.
She added that Turkey's accession negotiations would improve relations between Greece and Turkey and that "it is in Germany's interest to improve relations between the two countries." But the fact that Turkey refuses to recognise the Republic of Cyprus presents difficulties and "for this very reason we have put many restrictions in the accession negotiations. As long as Turkey does not implement the Ankara Protocol, it can not close this chapter (on free trade). Also, there are eight chapters which can not even open," she said.
Turkey EU Energy Chapter
During the joint press conference at the Presidential Palace, Christofias criticised Turkey's harassment of gas and oil exploration ships in island's territorial waters.
"Turkey harasses us in our efforts with planes flying over and warships passing by - and at the same time it wants to open the energy chapter in its accession talks. Turkey's gunboat policy must be stopped if it wants to be deemed a modern state that wants to join the EU family," he said.
Eight chapters of Turkey's EU accession negotiations have been frozen because the country does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus; instead it is the only country in the world which recognises the unilaterally-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus administered by Turkish-Cypriot authorities. The continued deadlock over the island's political reunification prospects has lasted for 37 years since Turkey's 1974 invasion.