EU stick, carrot for Turkey

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union yesterday urged Turkey to do more to unite Cyprus before the island joins the bloc next May, offering some encouragement on Ankara’s progress toward a start date for EU accession talks of its own. The EU has set Turkey a series of targets on political and economic reform, and will hold a review in December 2004. If satisfied with Ankara’s progress, it could set a date for opening talks on Turkey’s accession. The biggest obstacle is Cyprus. UN-mediated peace talks collapsed earlier this year after Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash rejected UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s blueprint for reunification. «We both expressed the view that there is an opportunity to resume talks and to find a solution based on the Kofi Annan plan,» Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said after meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. «I strongly encouraged (Gul) that we should try to find a solution to the Cyprus problem before the accession.» Verheugen also said the next regular report on Turkish political reforms was likely to be positive.