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December 19, 2006, Tuesday

Backed by France, Greek Cypriots Support Opening one Chapter

South Cyprus insists on decelerating EU membership negotiations with Turkey despite the EU decision to keep them on track.

On Monday in Brussels, in an enlargement study group meeting, Greek Cypriots said they would agree to the sending of an invitation to Turkey for the opening of the business and industrial policy chapter, but maintained that there was no need to ‘hurry’ with the rest of the chapters.

France and Holland support Greek Cyprus on this issue. The EU foreign ministers decision last week, and endorsed at the EU leaders summit, froze eight chapters with Turkey but maintained that readied chapters could be ‘rapidly’ opened to negotiation.

There are currently four chapters which the European Union can open to negotiation in accordance with its criteria. However, France and Holland say that resuming negotiations on four of the eight suspended chapters immediately after making the decision to suspend would send a wrong message to European publics.

While France thinks that negotiations on other chapters should be extended into Germany’s upcoming term as rotating EU president, it is not certain whether Greek Cypriots will use their veto right after agreeing to open the single chapter.

Even if the EU members, who meet tomorrow at the Committee of Permanent Representatives level (COREPER), reach an agreement on sending Turkey an invitation letter in regards to the 20th chapter, it now seems impossible to open one more chapter under the presidency of Finland.

Finland, on the other hand, wants to open four of the eight negotiation chapters within the context of the decision made at the summit. The talk of the town in Brussels is that Finland is ‘really disturbed’ by the attitude of Greek Cypriots.