Ankara refuses to budge on Cyprus

With six days left before the crucial European Union summit that will decide whether to give Turkey a date for the start of accession talks, Ankara rejected yet another plea yesterday to make even a gesture toward recognizing Cyprus before the meeting. European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso told Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a meeting in Brussels yesterday that «if and when the negotiation with Turkey will be opened, it will be a negotiation between Turkey and the EU, and it (is) clear that the EU (is) an entity of 25 member states.» But Turkish diplomats said Erdogan would not budge on his refusal to recognize Cyprus – since May 1 an EU member. Nevertheless, Barroso gave the Turkish PM a positive message on the December 16-17 summit’s decision. His spokeswoman, Francoise Le Bail, said the Commission chief thinks Turkish membership «will be a good thing for Turkey, and a good thing for the Union.» An EU-wide survey published yesterday appeared to back Barroso. An average 53 percent of respondents across the 25 member states backed a future EU expansion that would take in Turkey – although no reference was made to specific candidate states. In Greece, 62 percent supported the notion, which won the approval of respondents in most EU countries. However, Austria, Germany and France led the opponents of expansion, followed by Luxembourg. In Turkey itself, only 62 percent backed the idea. The Eurobarometer survey was conducted on behalf of the EU Commission in October.