President Papadopoulous in Helsinki: Cyprus is not opposed to Turkish EU membership
Cypriot leader says Turkey must withdraw forces from Northern Cyprus
The President of Cyprus, Thassos Papadopoulous, says that the European Union should treat Turkey as it treats all applicant countries.
Turkey’s EU membership talks were one of the key topics when Papadopulous began his visit to Finland on Monday at the invitation of President Tarja Halonen.
At a press conference held at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on Monday morning, Papadopoulous insisted that Turkey must adapt to all conditions of membership concerning EU principles.
In a lecture on Monday evening at the Paasikivi Society, a prestigious Finnish foreign affairs forum, he said that Turkey must make a commitment to withdraw its forces from Northern Cyprus before it joins the EU.
"It does not have to happen tomorrow, but without a withdrawal of the troops, Turkey cannot become a member of the EU", the President said.
President Tarja Halonen said that Turkish EU membership could help end the 30 years of division of Cyprus without setting any special preconditions concerning Cyprus.
"I believe that the EU has had a very positive impact on its member states, because it has made it necessary to understand the others (other EU countries) better", Halonen said.
She pointed out that the EU was set up specifically to create a new, united Europe.
In May, only the Greek Cypriot southern part of the island joined the EU.
In April the Greek Cypriots held a referendum in which they rejected a UN-sponsored unification plan, even though a majority of the Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of the plan promoted by Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Papadopoulous was an outspoken advocate of the "No" side in the south. He said that the agreement had certain details that he was opposed to.
He noted that the reason why the unification plan was rejected in the referendum was that the Greek Cypriots did not feel that the draft treaty was fair, and because they were concerned about their own futures.
Government of Cyprus, Press and Information Office