Cypriots to block Turkey's entry in EU

Cypriots threaten to break up Turkey's entry negotiations with the European Union if EU doesn’t include the Mediterranean island in its customs union with the bloc.

Turkey, which formally launched entry talks last October, is to start negotiations with the EU on science and technology issues the first of 35 so-called negotiating chapters on Monday during a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg. The talks on what is seen as an uncontroversial policy field are to be concluded the same day.

But Cyprus refused to approve the wording of a document to be handed to Turkey before the talks. The text will say Ankara urgently needs to push ahead with political reforms, but Cyprus insists it also call on Turkey to extend its customs union with the EU to include the divided island and nine other member states that joined in 2004.

Turkey signed an agreement last July to widen the customs union, but has not implemented it and refuses to open its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot ships and planes.

"If there is no deal on Monday, the negotiations on the first chapter will not even start," an EU diplomat said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. He also said Cyprus did not want the negotiations to be concluded the same day, reports the AP.

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