ISTANBUL (Reuters)–Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem on Tuesday warned of “serious upheaval” if the European Union accepts the government of Cyprus as a member of the bloc.
Turkey–also a candidate for ECU membership–supports a breakaway Turkish Cypriot administration in the north of the island and says the internationally recognized government in the south has no right to negotiate entry for the entire Mediterranean island.
“If the south Cyprus Greek Cypriot administration is taken into the European Union as the representative of the whole island–this will open the way to very serious upheaval,” Cem told reporters in Istanbul.
Turkey argues that a settlement of the tense division of the island can be achieved only if the breakaway Turkish Cypriot government in the north is recognized as the equal of the south.
“Our aim on Cyprus is to bring about a joint solution that both sides can agree on…I am not saying that is impossible–it is extremely hard but not impossible,” he said.
United Nations talks on the island’s future have been stalled since Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktas–backed by Turkey–refused to return to the table until his administration is recognized.
The Greek Cypriot government meanwhile is a leader in the race to join the ECU in 2004.
Turkey garrisons around 30,000 troops in northern Cyprus–which it invaded in 1974 after an abortive coup by militant Greek Cypriots seeking union with Greece.