EU leaders are expected to agree at a 16-17 December summit to begin membership negotiations with Ankara, but according to a first draft of the summit's conclusion, they will set some tough conditions.

In an interview with the liberal Radikal newspaper on Saturday, Erdogan recalled that EU leaders had agreed at their 2002 Copenhagen summit to open accession negotiations with Turkey without delay if it fulfils the required political criteria.

Ready

A European Commission report issued in October, on which EU leaders will base their decision in December, proclaimed Turkey ready for membership talks, he added.

"It is not possible for us to accept any new conditions. They will only tire us in the short time left," Erdogan said.

Asked if Turkey could turn down the offer to come from the December summit, Erdogan said: "Everything is possible."

Ankara wants the EU to set a firm date for the opening of accession negotiations at the December summit and declare that the talks will end in membership.

"We are not playing a game. The EU will set a date and firmly name the process, and we will prepare our programme according to that," Erdogan said. 

No guarantee

According to a draft of EU summit conclusions leaked to the press on Monday, EU leaders will give no guarantee for ultimate membership and will warn Turkey that the negotiations could be suspended if it violates fundamental EU principles.
 

Ankara wants the EU to set a
date for opening negotiations

The document also contains EU expectations that Ankara formally recognise EU-member Cyprus.

Turkey has said it will consider whether to do so only after the EU agrees to open membership talks and only if there is a durable settlement to the island's 30-year division.

Turkey recognises only the breakaway Turkish Cypriot government in the north of the island and is the only country to do so.

Turkey also maintains about 30,000 troops on the island, which has been divided along ethnic lines since 1974.