“A truly historic day” is how Britain’s foreign minister described the accord to allow Turkey to begin EU membership talks.
Jack Straw’s elation was shared by his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul, who called the outcome a “win-win situation” for his country, the EU and the world.
Ankara may have embarked on a new era, but the road towards accession will be littered with obstacles, as Gul’s statements in Luxembourg this morning demonstrated.
The foreign minister talked tough on Cyprus, saying Turkey would not accept the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot government as long as there was no permanent settlement on the island.
The British foreign minister has been one Ankara’s staunchest supporters.
“To be able to bring this very large Muslim-dominated country into the European Union which has previously been dominated by countries with a Christian heritage is a way at this critical time of binding these two great religions together and proving that there is no clash of civilisations, only a profound divide between civilised people across the world and a tiny minority who wish to wreck our civilisation.”
Many Europeans remain to be convinced, however. Opinion polls suggest a majority are sceptical about Turkey becoming a full member, and France and Austria have promised their voters a final say on the issue.