Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in Brussels to prepare for next week’s European Council summit.
Europe’s leaders will decide then how to proceed with Ankara’s wish to start membership talks. There is growing friction over the EU’s terms, notably the Cyprus question. As the foreign ministers arrived at a NATO meeting in the Belgian capital, Bernard Bot of current EU-presidency holder the Netherlands played down concern. “I think the trouble is that Turkey is not yet ready in a number of aspects as the Commission itself has established in its report. And we’re trying to find now a good formula. But as I say I’m absolutely sure that the Presidency which is very active at the moment will find formulas that will satisfy everybody and I have good hope that next week we will find a solution that is satisfactory both to Turkey and to the member states, so I’m optimistic.” Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 in reaction to an Athens-backed coup. Ankara says it will not recognise the Greek Cypriot government as the divided island’s sole representative before the summit. Nicosia raised the stakes on Wednesday by threatening to veto the start of accession talks unless it won full recognition before the negotiations begin. If the 25 EU leaders give Ankara the go-ahead at their December 17 gathering, the talks could formally launch some time next year.