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Christofias Denies Refusing EU Defense Ministers Meeting in Cyprus

President Demetris Christofias has denied that he refused to allow a meeting of EU defense ministers to be held in Cyprus, saying that the reports are a complete fiction.

The Danish EU presidency has opted out of presiding over EU Security and Defense Policy matters and Cyprus is undertaking it ahead of its own EU presidency in the second half of 2012.

"The Danish Presidency - and let's not misunderstand this - more than anything wants NATO, and refuses to take part in the EU Security and Defense Policy," said Christofias.

The issue is a political and military minefield. Denmark is a founding member of NATO and faces the acutely awkward dilemma of Turkey's parallel NATO membership and status as an occupying power in Cyprus. Turkey has been a NATO member since 1952 and the situation in Cyprus - which it has occupied since 1974 - has created obstacles to closer cooperation between the EU's defence system and NATO.

This is further complicated by Christofias' adamant opposition to any form of NATO membership on the grounds that he wants complete demilitarisation of the island.

"Our obligation is to make a formal meeting and we will do so...If they come here they won't tell us to enter NATO anyway," said Christofias.

Christofias did not confirm whether the meeting will be held in Cyprus or abroad.

The row now threatens to escalate over Turkey's continuing refusal to recognise the Republic of Cyprus as the island's official government. Ankara has already said it will freeze relations with the EU during Cyprus' presidency and possibly withdraw its troops from Bosnia.
 
According to a statement from the 'TRNC', the scope of the government's authority will include EU peace-keeping forces in Bosnia, where Turkey also has troops stationed after NATO's intervention in the 1990's.

"Turkey is now considering to withdraw its military force from the region or to keep the number to minimum," say 'TRNC' officials.

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