Turkey ready for EU talks

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey is ready for European Union accession talks next month and is determined to make them a success, a key minister said, shrugging off last-minute wrangling inside the bloc over Ankara’s bid. Turkey is scheduled to start its talks on October 3, but the EU has yet to agree on a negotiating mandate and Cyprus, backed by France and Austria, is pressing Ankara for more concessions. «Turkey is completely ready and prepared to start the ‘screening’ process,» said Economy Minister Ali Babacan, who will lead Turkey’s EU negotiating team. «The negotiation process will be a long one and we are completely resolved to continue this process,» he added. Babacan, addressing a meeting of non-governmental organizations, stressed the need to explain to both the Turkish and European publics the reforms Ankara is undertaking. «Without the support of public opinion, it is clear it will be more difficult to make certain steps in the EU,» he said. «One of our primary aims is to overcome misunderstandings and prejudices against Turkey in Europe.»