Most of Europe is talking up the positive aspects of the start of the Turkey negotiations.
The 25 foreign ministers presented a united front, but European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was in no doubt about the hard work ahead for all sides:
“Turkey must be treated in the same way as all other candidates. And it must strictly respect the requirements for democracy, human rights and rule of law if it is to join the club. Europe must also learn more about Turkey and Turkey must win the hearts and minds of European citizens.”
Putting the tough talking behind her, Austria’s Ursula Plassnik played down any thoughts of acrimony:” It’s not an offensive discussion. There are different types of formula, different things one can imagine as being the best possible solution. In any case, two partners have to agree. We will start negotiations now – we will do this with a good European spirit.”
Cyprus’s George Iacovou hoped Turkey would be grateful for his country’s support: “We have constantly supported this Turkish ambition and we hope that Turkey will recognise this Cypriot contribution to its path towards Europe”.
In the US, reflecting continued support of an old NATO ally, White house spokesman Sean McCormack declared the Bush administration’s pleasure at the outcome:“The US has long supported Turkey’s European aspirations, but we don’t have a vote in this process, although we have lent our diplomatic as well as rhetorical support to their cause”.