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EU FMs to tackle Turkey's European bid
2004-12-13 10:38:09

Larnaca, Dec 13 (CNA) -- Foreign Ministers from the European Union 25 member states are meeting Monday in Brussels in an attempt to iron out differences over the wording of the EU summit conclusions with regard to the start of accession negotiations with Turkey.

Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou has said ministers will have before them drafts, proposed by the Dutch six-monthly rotating EU presidency, and will outline their positions on the items under discussion.

Turkey, which does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus, is adamant that it should get an unconditional start to membership talks, claiming it has complied with the Copenhagen criteria, relating to human rights and respect of law and order.

Cyprus is seeking recognition from Ankara, whose troops occupy the country's northern areas, saying that Turkey cannot possibly be asking Cyprus for its positive vote at the summit and not recognise the Republic.

''The EU presidency will ask for our observations but it will not allow any effort to rewrite its own draft, since this is a presidency duty,'' Iacovou said before leaving for Brussels, adding that Nicosia goes to the meeting of the General Affairs Council with specific positions.

Responding to questions, Iacovou said there are different approaches within the EU members to the start of accession talks with Turkey, and referred to Britain's desire to see the shortest wording on Turkey in the summit conclusions and to France's wish not to commit the Union to a concrete decision about the future outcome of such talks with Ankara.

He also said that various EU members have shown understanding to the positions Cyprus has expressed but it remains to be seen if at this week's summit this approach will be translated into actual support.

On the US role in these discussions, the minister pointed out that Washington is exerting pressure to ensure that Ankara gets a date for the start of accession talks with as few conditions as possible.

''However the US does not participate in our discussions, it is not a member of the European Council where the decisions will be taken,'' he added.

Cyprus President Tassos Papadopolous leaves Thursday for Brussels to participate in the EU summit, having visited many European capitals to explain his positions on the issue of membership talks with Turkey.

He has repeatedly stated that Nicosia does not object to the start of accession negotiations with Ankara provided that it fulfills its obligations towards the EU and Cyprus as well.

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