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Despite Greek Objections, EU to Lift TRNC Embargo

InternationalYesterday, for the first time, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) reaped the benefits of saying 'Yes' in the April 24th referendum on the Annan Plan to reunify Cyprus.

The European Union (EU) Commission yesterday announced a Cyprus package that has as its overall goal bringing an end to the embargo that has been in place on TRNC since 1994.

According to the Cyprus package, direct trading channels between the EU and TRNC will be opened. In addition, foreign investment and trade will be allowed. The European Union will also disperse 259 million Euros of financial aid to TRNC in an effort to improve the country's infrastructure.

The package will be submitted for approval at next Monday's (July 12) EU Foreign Ministers meeting. If the Council approves the package, it will be put into practice.

EU Commission sources told Zaman yesterday that the Greeks might try to challenge some of the package's items in the EU Court of Justice; however, they would not achieve anything by taking such action.

Meanwhile, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Gunther Verheugen evaluated the package and said that the Cypriot Turks who support the EU deserve such support; however, the Commissioner emphasized that the package does not mean that the EU recognizes the TRNC. Verheugen added that the Greeks cannot veto the package. He would not confirm when the package would be put into practice.

On the other hand, the package perturbed the Cypriot Greek side, who had previously declared that they would take their concerns to the EU Court of Justice. EU sources warn that such an action would be a grave political mistake on the part of the Greeks.

The same sources elaborated about the timing of the package and said that it could be implemented in July; however, the final decision rests with the current Term President, Holland.

The possible approval dates of the package could be any of the following scheduled meetings prior to the Commission's summer recess: The EU Foreign Ministers meeting on July 12, the Economy and Finance Ministers meeting on July 16, the Justice and Internal Affairs Ministers meeting on July 19 or the Agriculture Ministers meeting on July 19.


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