Turkey set to sign EU customs pact today

Turkey will today sign a protocol expanding its customs agreement with the European Union to cover the 10 new member states, including Cyprus, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Namik Tan said yesterday as Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan prepared for talks with his British counterpart Tony Blair, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency. Tan noted, however, that Turkey would also submit a separate document declaring that its signing of the protocol is not a de facto recognition of Cyprus. Meanwhile, the EU’s committee of permanent representatives (COREPER) said it would co-sign the protocol if Turkey submits such a declaration. It stressed, however, that if this declaration should refer to curbing the powers of the protocol – by blocking Cypriot vessels from Turkish ports, for example – it would not be approved. Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, speaking from London following talks with Blair, said it would be «unthinkable» for EU candidate Turkey not to recognize Cyprus. The EU has not made recognition of Cyprus a precondition for Turkey joining the bloc but plans to force Ankara’s hand during accession talks.

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