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Unresolved Turkey-Cyprus issue could harm relations with EU

RIA Novosti

16:54 13/07/2011 ANKARA, July 13 (RIA Novosti) - Turkey will freeze relations with the European Union if the Cyprus issue is not settled by July 2012, Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.

"If the Greek Cypriot side stalls negotiations and takes over the presidency of the European Union in July 2012, this means not only a deadlock on the island, but also a blockage, a freezing point in Turkish-European Union relations," Davutoglu said.

Davutoglu said Turkey would not recognize Cyprus' EU presidency in mid-2012 unless a deal reunifying the island is reached.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the north in response to a military coup on the island backed by Athens. Turkey is the only state that has recognized the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state. Reunification with its richer neighbor is seen as a solution to economic problems of northern Cyprus, which has an annual budget deficit of nearly $1 billion, covered by Turkey.

The reunification issue is crucial for Turkey. The country started EU entry talks almost five years ago, but Cyprus has repeatedly used its EU membership to hamper Turkey's accession efforts.

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