Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The European Commission has recommended that some elements of talks with Turkey about its hopes of joining the EU should be frozen

BBC News:

The recommendations follow the breakdown of talks over the divided island of Cyprus.

Turkey's refusal to recognise the Cypriot government has become an obstacle to Turkey's membership hopes.

The recommendations come despite a last-ditch effort by the Finnish prime minister to rescue the Turkish talks.

Finland currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, and Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen will visit Turkey on Friday to meet his Turkish counterpart.

But after Finland said on Monday that talks over the Cyprus issue were deadlocked, the European Commission brought forward an announcement it was due to make next week.

It said eight of the 35 areas of negotiation between the EU and Turkey should be suspended.

"There is a unanimous decision by the member states to conduct accession negotiations with Turkey... Turkey has undoubtedly made progress. But it has still not implemented all obligations it has agreed to," EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a statement.

The EU insists that Turkey fulfils its commitment to open its ports to traffic from Cyprus, but Turkey says it will not do so until the EU eases its embargo on Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded to counter a Greek Cypriot coup backed by the military junta ruling Greece at the time.

The final decision on whether to suspend negotiations will be made by EU foreign ministers, or by heads of government when they meet in mid-December.

If they suspend some chapters of the talks, it would not mean Turkey's application would be halted altogether, but could make it difficult to get full negotiations back on track, says the BBC's Jonny Dymond in Brussels.

Turkey angered by EU backtrack on membership

Turkish PM calls European Commission move to partially suspend talks 'unacceptable'

Dutch MPs back halt to Turkey's EU talks


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