Cicek: "If pressed, Turkey will choose Cyprus over the EU"
Turkey yesterday repeated a call for a solution to Cyprus' division by year's-end, warning that it may give up on its bid to join the European Union if it is pressed to make a choice between its membership aspirations and agreeing to concessions on Cyprus. "If the big powers pressure us to choose between the EU and Cyprus, our choice will always be Cyprus," Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek said in a speech marking the 36th anniversary of Turkey's Peace Operation on Cyprus to stop Greek Cypriot attacks on the island's Turkish population. The attacks were part of a campaign to unite the island with Greece. "We have always wanted a just solution and we will continue to do so. For those who present the Cyprus issue as a precondition for our EU membership, for those who say we must choose between the two, let me say that Turkey's choice will always be Cyprus," Cicek said. Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders have been holding talks on reunification of the island since fall 2008, but with limited progress so far. Ankara and the Turkish Cypriot government have repeatedly said that 2011 is a deadline for a settlement, warning that the talks can't go on indefinitely. The Greek Cypriots, on the other hand, resist calls for a deadline in negotiations. "We seek a solution by the end of 2010. However, if this can't be achieved, everyone will go their separate ways," Cicek said. "I call upon the EU and those who back the Greek Cypriot side to review their approach and consider what will happen if there is no solution by the end of the year," he continued. "A solution is not impossible. ... If a solution is to be found, it must be based on the reality that there are two equal peoples and two equal states on Cyprus."