Possible new EU deadline for Turkey

The leaders of France and Germany urge the EU to set a new deadline for Turkey's EU bid.

    Merkel has offered support over finding a
    solution to Cyprus

    "The idea is to have a formal review ... so at a given moment we can see if Turkey has changed and whether we can take back that decision or ... toughen it," the source said.

    In an interview with Reuters in Brussels, Olli Rehn, the EU enlargement commissioner, appealed to Merkel and Chirac not to press for a new deadline for Turkey to open its ports to Cyprus.
    He said strict deadlines did not produce results and the Cyprus question was best solved by the UN.

    EU foreign ministers are due to decide next week how hard to sanction Ankara for its failure to meet a treaty obligation to open its harbours and airports to traffic from EU member Cyprus, whose Greek Cypriot government it does not recognise.

    Areas of negotiations

    Matti Vanhanen, the Finnish prime minister, who holds the EU's rotating presidency, said on Tuesday the recommendation to suspend some parts of the negotiations was the right step.

    The European Commission last week recommended that negotiations on eight of 35 policy areas should be halted because of Turkey's refusal to allow Greek Cypriot ships and planes to use its ports and airports.

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, has criticised talks and warned the EU not to push his country away from membership negotiations.


    Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister, has said the commission's recommendation risked destabilising the region.


    Vanhanen said EU foreign ministers should decide on whether to adopt that recommendation at their meeting Monday, because he did not intend to take the issue to a summit meeting later next week.


    'Difficult situation'


    Although he acknowledged that the negotiations were in "a difficult situation," Vanhanen told a meeting of EU legislators that the plan to bring Turkey into the Union should go ahead.


    Greece wants the EU to give Turkey an 18-month deadline to open trade with Cyprus as part of its commitments to eventually join the bloc.


    "In our opinion, there should be an 18-month timeframe," said Dora Bakoyannis, the Greek foreign minister.


    "The [negotiation] process must continue with Turkey. There must not be a complete halt in the talks."


    Ankara has refused to open its ports and airports to Cyprus, insisting that trade restrictions must also be lifted on the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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