European Union foreign ministers face a delicate situation with new member Cyprus over Turkey’s bid to join the bloc, as Nicosia threatens to halt talks before they begin in earnest. Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou has informed the EU that Turkey must recognise and normalise relations with it before detailed discussions take place.
Turkey was due to conclude accession negotiations on the first of 35 policy areas but that now looks to be under threat unless a diplomatic soloution is found. Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said:
“What we want is to hand Turkey a positive message today, while at the same time we want to impress on the Turkish authorities that they keep their appointments”.
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has said he will not attend the meeting in Luxembourg if the talks are blocked. Turkey, which has 35,000 troops occupying northern Cyprus since a 1974 invasion in response to Greek Cypriot coup formed by the then ruling military junta in Athens, does not recognise the Nicosia government.
The Austrian EU presidency said they will issue a statement reiterating Turkey’s obligations, but not the explicit references Nicosia is seeking on recognition and normalisation.