EU talks on Turkey open today in Brussels

On the eve of the two-day European Union summit that opens in Brussels today and will define the future of Ankara’s EU aspirations, it still remained unclear yesterday what terms leaders of the 25 member states would set out regarding Turkey’s relations with Greece and Cyprus. The European Parliament voted yesterday in favor of the EU opening membership talks with Turkey, while at the same time urging Ankara to extend reforms and move toward recognizing Cyprus. A resolution said the opening of talks would «presuppose recognition,» which Ankara has so far refused to do – directly or indirectly. A source in the Dutch EU presidency was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying Turkey will have to show a commitment this week to sign a customs union agreement covering the 10 new member states. Cypriot government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said this would be «a cause of satisfaction» for Nicosia. But a document sent by the Turkish permanent delegation to the EU to all member states – obtained by Kathimerini yesterday – indicated that Ankara will seek to avoid such a move. And Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed that Ankara will refuse any deal with the EU «if they try to impose any unacceptable conditions.» Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is due in Brussels today, after canceling his planned departure yesterday due to the bus hijacking crisis. Meanwhile, yesterday the head of the Church of Greece, Archbishop Christodoulos, called the faithful to prayers against the opening of Turkey’s EU accession talks, arguing that the summit decision will determine «whether the European Union will remain Christian, even in name.»