Meeting to harmonise positions over Turkey’s membership negotiations with the European Union, the EU’s foreign ministers have been debating what should be done if Ankara does not yield in a stand-off over trade with Cyprus. Leaders at an EU summit next month will be under pressure to decide.
Failing swift progress, Austria has called for a “time-out”, though not a formal suspension of talks, as analysts suggest some countries want. The EU’s enlargement chief said there was still a chance to avoid a “train wreck” in relations with the strategically important Muslim candidate country.
Analyst Michael Emerson : “I think the goodwill problem is indeed largely on the Greek Cypriot side — I think the burden of responsibility is for them to be more helpful for the Northern Turkish Cypriots to be able to live normal economic lives, with trade.”
Chief Turkish negotiator Ali Babacan told a Brussels panel discussion that any pause in his country’s membership process could have negative consequences not just for Turkey and the European Union but for the whole region. The European Commission last week gave Turkey until mid-December to meet a treaty obligation and open its ports to ships from Cyprus.