May 28, 2012 08:50 PM

ANKARA: The European Parliament's chief criticised Turkey Monday
for threatening to freeze ties with the EU when the bloc's rotating
presidency shifts to Cyprus, which Ankara does not recognise as a
sovereign state.

"I criticise this. This is not possible," said Martin Schulz, the
European Parliament's president, who is in Ankara for an official

"I take note that a candidate state says to us we will not negotiate
during the presidency of a member state of the European Union,"
he said.

Cyprus takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the EU on
July 1, and Turkey has threatened to freeze ties with the EU during
this period.

Schulz said he raised the issue during his meetings with Turkish
officials, and stressed that "the Republic of Cyprus is a member
state of the European Union."

Turkey has been negotiating with the 27-member bloc for full membership
since 2005, but succeeded in closing only one chapter out of 35
policy chapters, which all EU candidate nations must conclude prior
to accession.

All but 13 negotiating chapters were frozen by Brussels, Cyprus and
France, and the row over Turkey's refusal to open its sea and air
ports to ships from Cyprus still remain the major stumbling block of
accession talks.

The nation of 73 million also refuses to extend its Custom's Union
deal to new EU members, including Cyprus.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkish troops invaded the northern
third in response to an Greek-inspired coup in Nicosia aimed at
uniting the island with Greece.

Ankara is alone in recognising the government in the northern sector,
which goes by the name Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.