Turkey says won’t sacrifice Cyprus for EU membership

March 07, 2011, Monday/ 17:50:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

A Turkish deputy prime minister said at a workshop on Saturday that Turkey will not sacrifice Turkish Cypriots rights and interests for an institution like the EU, whose future is shrouded in doubt.

Cemil Çiçek, who is also the state minister for Cyprus affairs, told participants at the workshop called “Turkish Cyprus in 2011 -- Opportunities and Threats” in Ankara that the Cyprus problem is bigger than party affiliations and is a national matter for all governments in Turkey.

“If you place Turkish Cyprus on one side of a scale and EU membership on the other, Turkey would prefer Turkish Cyprus a thousand times,” Çiçek stressed, adding that the EU cannot be a political force without Turkey and that Turkey would not sacrifice Turkish Cypriot’s rights and interests for the EU, whose future is shrouded in doubt. Çiçek acknowledged that there is a standstill in Turkey’s EU membership talks because of Cyprus, but that Turkey is ready to pay the price.

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