The current EU president Britain has reiterated strong UK support for integrating Turkey in the bloc. Cyprus, meanwhile, angry about Turkey’s refusal to recognise it, has turned up pressure in the row over key talks. UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw was guest at a think tank in London: “Turkey is a secular nation with a majority Muslim population. By welcoming Turkey into the European Union, we will be demonstrating that Western and Islamic countries can thrive together as partners in the modern world. The alternative is to terrible to contemplate.”
The Cypriots are blocking discussion of a mandate needed before negotiations on Turkish membership can start as scheduled in three weeks. Cyprus wants an emergency meeting on September 26th to work on a forceful EU reply to non-recognition by Ankara.
Turkey rejects that Greek Cypriot Nicosia represents the whole of the island in the EU. Greek Cypriots last year rejected a U.N. peace plan that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots had endorsed. Even though the island’s thirty-year division remains unsettled, Straw warns the EU’s credibility is at stake over its commitment to Ankara.