Turks accuse Merkel of Greek Cypriot bias


ANKARA – Turkey accused German chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday of bias in blaming Turkish Cypriots for an impasse in reunification talks during a visit to the Greek Cypriot side of the island earlier this week.

The continued division of Cyprus remains a major obstacle for Turkey as it seeks membership of the European Union, and Turkish leaders often accuse some EU states of secretly using the issue to keep Turkey out when their real objections lie in the fact that it is a Muslim country.

Both Dr Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy have voiced reservations about granting Turkey membership.

“If Mrs Merkel had listened to both sides, she wouldn’t have made such biased comments,” Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu said during a news conference in Ankara.

His ministry reinforced the message to Germany in a statement taking Dr Merkel to task.

After meeting with Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias, Dr Merkel said on Tuesday that Turkey needed to show more willingness in the resolution of its dispute with Cyprus.

She said the Cypriot government’s willingness to compromise had not been reciprocated by the other side.

“Under current circumstances, we find it thought-provoking that Germany, a leading country in the European Union and a temporary member of the United Nations Security Council, has commented on the negotiation process in Cyprus in the light of information provided by the Greek Cypriot side only,” the Turkish foreign ministry statement said.

The EU wants Turkey to fulfil a commitment to open its ports and airports to Cyprus. Turkey wants the European Union to end its embargo of the Turkish north of the island at the same time.

“The chancellor knows very well it was the Greek Cypriots who turned down the UN plan in 2004. She doesn’t need any historical lectures on this,” Dr Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in Berlin, responding to criticism from Turkey. – (Reuters)