Eroğlu met with Vanackere yesterday in Brussels and called a press conference after the meeting. Stating that he conveyed to the minister the demands of the Turkish side on the Cyprus issue, Eroğlu said they exchanged views on talks between Turkish and Greek Cypriots on the island's fate. Eroğlu said Vanackere expressed an expectation for a solution to the Cyprus problem.
Noting that the Turkish side is also in favor of a solution, Eroğlu said a solution is not possible without the efforts of the Greek Cypriots. Recalling that Ankara had lent its full support to a UN reunification plan back in 2004, he said the EU could contribute to the solution if it keeps its 2004 pledge to start direct trade with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) and end the economic isolation of Turkish Cyprus.
Turkey, which does not recognize the Greek Cypriot administration, has consistently called on the EU to fulfill its commitment to end the isolation of Turkish Cyprus as a condition for opening its ports and airports to traffic from Greek Cyprus. The EU unveiled a plan to ease the isolation of the northern side by establishing direct trade with the KKTC after they voted for the UN plan -- led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan -- to reunite the island, but it was never implemented because of opposition from several members, including Greek Cyprus.
In 2004, Turkish Cypriots approved a UN plan to reunite the island, but the plan collapsed because Greek Cypriots had voted against it. A few days after the vote, Greek Cyprus joined the EU as the official representative of the entire island, acquiring the right to veto EU candidate Turkey's accession talks. In 2006, the EU suspended talks on eight of 35 negotiating chapters with Turkey due to Ankara's refusal to open its ports and airports to traffic from Greek Cyprus.
“The regulation on direct trade is important for us, but ending isolation is more [important],” Eroğlu said. Recalling that an EU court ruling in 1994 annulled previous trade links between the then-12 member EU and Turkish Cyprus, Eroğlu said restoring this right to the KKTC would contribute to the development of Turkish Cyprus.
Noting that the Greek Cypriots are currently working to block the regulation on direct trade currently on the EU's agenda, Eroğlu said they both say a solution is needed in Cyprus and try to block every move to facilitate the development of the KKTC. “They are lobbying in Brussels to prevent the regulation's approval in the European Parliament [EP]. There is insincerity here. Their actions at the negotiating table are not sincere,” Eroğlu said.