"A problematic country should not become an EU member," Merkel was quoted as saying in the speech delivered on Thursday, when she admitted that there was no progress made concerning the Cyprus issue along the term presidency of her country, which ended with the month of June. In Germany's six-month term as EU president contacts with the Turkish and Greek Cypriot parties yielded no position change from either side, Merkel noted.
"These meetings clearly showed us that no country that hasn't resolved its internal problems should be taken to the EU," Merkel stressed in her remarks -- affirmation of what Ankara has been saying ever since Cyprus was welcomed as a full EU member in May 2004. The accession came just days after Greek Cyprus rejected a UN-led referendum for reunification of the island, divided since the 1974 military intervention by Turkey. Turkish Cypriots overwhelmingly supported reunification in the simultaneous referenda, yet they were left out in the cold, unable to enjoy EU membership rights.
The EU has so far failed to get Greek Cyprus to lift its opposition to live up to a three-year-old promise to provide aid and open direct trade links with the Turkish Cypriots in a sign of appreciating their will for reunification. The EU only recognizes the southern Greek Cypriot side of the island, which serves as the official representative of the entire island within the bloc.
The EU partially suspended accession negotiations with Ankara last December in protest of Turkey's refusal to open its ports and airports to trade with Greek Cyprus. Turkey says it will not change its stance until the EU takes steps to end the international isolation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC).
Last month Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, during a visit to Ankara where he participated in a Turkey-EU Troika meeting, expressed regret that Turkey had failed to take steps to recognize Greek Cyprus. Yet, in remarks pleasing Ankara, he also expressed regret over the fact that the EU has not been able to fulfill its promises for conducting direct trade with Turkish Cypriots.
The EU hopes for "a comprehensive resolution to the Cyprus issue," but not for "a partial solution," EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn stressed during the same meeting, diplomatic sources said at the time. Rehn also stated that the European Commission believed the UN, and not the EU, was the appropriate address at which to seek a resolution.