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    Deterioration of EU-Turkey Relations to Harm Cyprus Reunion Process - Ambassador

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    Further deterioration of relations between Turkey and the European Union is not favorable for Cyprus due to its negative effect on the island's reunification process, Cypriot Ambassador to Russia George Kasoulides told Sputnik.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to change the country's policy toward the European Union after a referendum on constitutional amendments on April 16 amid the political row around the Turkish rallies bans in such EU countries as the Netherlands, Austria and Germany, adding that the bloc had been dragging out Turkey’s accession process for many years.

    The referendum seeks to provide the Turkish president with more powers. The president will also be able to remain the head of the political party he represents, which is not allowed by the current legislation.

    "For sure, if this situation with Turkey deteriorates, it is not good for us [Cyprus] and for the whole of Europe, but I would say mainly for Turkey," Kasoulides said.

    As Cyprus is the EU member state, all Turkish Cypriots residing on the island enjoy all the benefits of the EU membership, the ambassador noted.

    "For us, it [Turkey’s relations with the European Union] is very important because we always put a lot of hope in Turkey actually becoming a member or having as close as possible relations with the European Union because we consider this as part of the framework of a solution of the Cyprus problem," Kasoulides explained.

    Kasoulides told Sputnik that he was very optimistic about the resumption of Cyprus reunification negotiations after the Turkish referendum.

    "I am very optimistic that we will return [after the Turkish constitutional referendum] to the talks. I would not say that the result of the referendum is going to be a big factor, but after the referendum for sure there will be no excuse not to return to the negotiations table," Kasoulides explained.

    Kasoulides stressed the Greek Cypriot side's readiness and intention to return to the UN-facilitated negotiations on the divided island's reunification.

    "It is very important to return to this format [of talks in Geneva], to return to negotiations table and every side to put forward their positions," Kasoulides added.

    Cyprus became divided in 1974 after Turkish military invasion caused by the coup conducted by the supporters of the island's unification with Greece.

    The UN-brokered talks on the reunification of long-divided Cyprus were held in early January in Geneva with participation of Greek and Turkish Cypriots, guarantor countries, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom, as well as the European Union.

    A new round of UN-mediated peace talks was expected to be held in March, however, the negotiations came to an impasse after Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci left a face-to-face meeting with Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades in protest to Cypriot parliament's decision to initiate school celebrations commemorating the 1950 referendum that sought union of the island with Greece.

    Turkey signed an association agreement with the then-European Community in 1963, submitting a membership application in 1987. Negotiations concerning the country's membership of the European Union began in 2005. On November 24, European lawmakers voted in favor of freezing EU accession talks with Turkey until it lifts restrictive measures in the country in place since a failed coup in July 2016.

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    Tags:
    European Union, George Kasoulides, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, North Cyprus, Turkey, Cyprus
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