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European Parliament concerned at Turkey's threats towards Cyprus

In Tuesday evening's debate, MEPs were united in their concern at the rising tensions between Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus in the dispute over oil and gas exploration. They condemned Turkey's threats and stressed that any threat against one Member State was a threat against the whole EU.

A number of Members pointed to the growing importance of Turkey as a player in the region and underlined the need for good neighbourly relations, stressing that Turkey, a candidate for EU membership, must accept Cyprus as a member of the EU. Many underlined that the Republic of Cyprus has the right to explore for natural resources in its own economic zone while some suggested that both communities on the island should benefit from any exploitation of oil and gas resources.

Several MEPs made the point that this dispute comes at a critical point in the UN negotiations on the reunification of the divided island of Cyprus. Some Members objected to Commissioner F�le's appeal for restraint from both sides, feeling that this should apply only to Turkey. Others took the view that while Turkey's reaction to the announcement by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus that it was drilling for gas was not justified it was not surprising. All hoped that the dispute could be swiftly resolved.

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