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Turkey overcomes final EU talks hurdle

Turkey overcomes final EU talks hurdle
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Turkey will meet the final pre-condition for opening talks on European Union membership when it signs a customs union protocol on Wednesday.

The document extends its current customs accords to the bloc’s ten new member states, including Cyprus. Ankara has already introduced a number of reforms to its judiciary system and its human and minority rights legislation. However, problems over Cyprus still remain. Although Cyprus joined the EU last year, international efforts to reunite the divided Mediterranean island have so far failed. Turkish Cypriots in the north of the island backed a United Nations-brokered plan but Greek Cypriots in the south rejected it. Ankara has made it clear that signing the protocol on Wednesday will not amount to a recognition of the Greek Cypriot government. Such recognition is not a pre-condition for membership talks, but Greece is unlikely to approve Turkey joining until a solution has been worked out. Negotiations should now begin in October but could last a decade or even longer.