Turks poised to sign EU deal

Turkey was last night expected to sign a protocol expanding its customs agreement to include all 25 European Union states, including Cyprus, after the British EU presidency said it had signed it. «We have signed and expect the Turkish side to sign this evening,» a British official was quoted as saying. EU diplomats had worried the signing could be postponed if Turkey insisted on attaching to the protocol a declaration whose wording was deemed to challenge the spirit of the accord. EU officials had said they would approve the declaration – in which Turkey wants to clarify that its signature is not a de facto recognition of Cyprus – as long as it does not seek to curb the protocol’s powers by actions such as blocking Cypriot vessels from Turkish ports. British officials said Ankara assured this would not happen. Late on Thursday, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said he would veto the opening of EU talks with Turkey if it refuses to recognize Cyprus. «Turkey must sign the agreement without any terms or preconditions,» he said.

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