Turkey has to sign Protocol before talks start, EU draft says
by Gregoris Savva
Brussels, Dec 17 (CNA) -- A European Union draft on Turkey's accession prospects calls on Ankara to sign a protocol adapting the Ankara Agreement so that it includes Cyprus, before the actual start of membership talks set to begin on 3 October, 2005.
The draft, according to diplomatic sources, is closer to the demands of the Cyprus government for recognition by Ankara, the only country that recognises the self-styled regime in Turkish occupied Cyprus and refuses to extend the same recognition to an EU member, whose vote is seeking for the start of membership talks.
The European Council welcomes Turkey's decision to sign the Protocol on the adaptation of the Ankara Agreement (Custonms Union) to take into account the accession of the ten new member states, the draft says.
For this purpose, the presidency refers to its statement in the annex of the EU summit conclusions.
The annex notes that the presidency, on behalf of the EU, welcomes the initialing by the Commission and Turkey on 17 December of the Protocol extending the Ankara Agreement to the 25 member states.
The signing of the Agreement must take place before the actual start of accession negotiations with Turkey, it adds.
It also says that the objective of the negotiations is accession but notes that they are ''an open-ended process, the outcome of which cannot be guaranteed in advance.''
If an applicant was unable to meet all criteria for membership, ''it must be ensured that the candidate state concerned is fully anchored in the European structures through the strongest possible bond.''
The European Council hopes that these developments would assist and encourage the improvement of Turkey's relations with all the member states, the draft says.