PM puts spotlight on Turkey before December summit

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis came away from his visit to Cyprus on Friday and Saturday insisting that Turkey must recognize the republic, if it wants to join the EU, but keeping other foreign policy cards close to his chest. «Turkey’s path toward Europe depends first and foremost on itself – on its effort to comply with European law and principles and particularly its conduct toward the Republic of Cyprus,» said Karamanlis in an address to a special session of the Cypriot Parliament on Saturday. The focus of his trip was on outlining common policies with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos in the leadup to the December 17 EU summit, when leaders of the 25 member states will decide whether and when to open accession talks with Turkey. However, neither leader made their positions public, especially on the thorny issue of vetoing the progression of Turkey’s EU discussions. Sources indicate that, privately, they reached an understanding and it is thought unlikely that either side will exercise its veto during the EU summit. However, Cyprus is likely to insist that Turkey officially recognizes the republic before it begins accession talks with the EU. Papadopoulos seems to be willing to put aside for the moment other matters, such as the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the occupied territories. On Friday, the Cypriot president said he had sent a message to the Turkish leadership proposing a meeting before the December 17 summit but there has been no official response from Ankara so far. The offer was not being taken seriously, a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry official told Agence France-Presse yesterday on condition of anonymity. Karamanlis and Papadopoulos also agreed that the reunification plan proposed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and rejected by Greek-Cypriots in an April referendum should be revived, albeit with some alterations.