Nicosia does not plan veto for now

Three days ahead of the crucial summit that will decide on giving Turkey a date for the start of its accession talks, EU foreign ministers yesterday edged closer to giving Ankara a green light. But the meeting in Brussels failed to agree on when the negotiations would start, and how long they would take. On the matter of Turkey’s refusal to recognize Cyprus, Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou said that «at this stage» Nicosia was not mulling the option of vetoing Turkey’s accession talks – despite strong public backing for such a move. He said, however, that the Cypriot government expected Ankara to move on the issue at the spring EU summit. «We have not asked for legally defined recognition, but normalization of relations in general and, in particular, in the bilateral field,» he said. «This means we will not ask Turkey to open an embassy tomorrow, or in three or six months.» Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis said the final wording on the reference in the December 16-17 summit’s conclusions regarding Turkey’s relations with Cyprus has yet to be finalized. Molyviatis discussed the matter extensively with Bernard Bot, his counterpart from the Netherlands, which holds the rotating EU presidency. Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said it was «necessary and logical» for Turkey to recognize Cyprus, describing Ankara’s stance so far as «morally and politically incomprehensible.» Ireland, the Czech Republic and Spain also backed Cyprus on the matter.