NEWS

EU says Cyprus affects Turkey

While a peace deal on Cyprus is not an official prerequisite for Turkey’s European Union prospects, it will be hard to open membership talks with Ankara this year if the island remains divided, EU officials said yesterday. «[Turkey] would do wise to take account of the situation in Cyprus,» Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said in Strasbourg. «We all live in a political world. It is a reality that the perception is that if we made progress in Cyprus, it would be very helpful.» European Commission spokesman Jean Christophe Filori said Ankara could still get a go-ahead, but that it would be «politically very difficult» for this to happen should Cyprus not be reunited. The decision on Turkey’s candidacy will be made in December. Cyprus will enter the Union on May 1. Today, EU Commission President Romano Prodi is due in Ankara, in the first visit by a top bloc official since 1963.