Turkey has cleared the Cyprus hurdle- provisionally. It has been able to conclude negotiations on the first of 35 policy chapters on its path to European Union membership.
At a turbulent meeting of the 25’s foreign ministers, Cyprus showed flexibility in the end, although it accused Turkey of a breach of faith. Greece said the EU was insisting Turkey act positively on Cyprus this year. Austria chaired the meeting, as current EU president. A diplomat said if anyone had doubted the talks process with Turkey would be tough, this proved it.
In recognizing all the new member states, Ankara was told, it must include Cyprus and open its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and planes, as it has committed to do on paper.
The EU text to be added to the policy chapter on science and research said: ‘Failure to implement obligations will affect the negotiations’ progress overall.’
Meanwhile Turkey’s prime minister was visiting his counterpart in Croatia – another EU candidate. Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he did not think 24 EU members would give much weight to the veto of ‘a part of Cyprus’. Ankara does not recognise Nicosia as the whole island’s only legitimate voice in the EU.
Turkish troops invaded northern Cyprus in 1974 in response to a Greek-inspired coup and troops remain.