EU deal on response to Turkey is still elusive

European Union diplomats were negotiating late into the night yesterday so they could agree on the text of a statement criticizing Turkey’s failure to recognize Cyprus, after objections by Athens and Nicosia that previous versions had been too weak. There was no indication that any agreement had been reached on the counter-declaration to Turkey’s statement in July reaffirming its position on Cyprus, but the British presidency of the EU was confident that a deal could be struck this week. However, sources said the proposal put forward yesterday by Britain at the Council of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) in Brussels was the least acceptable to Athens and Nicosia of the three versions drafted so far. A failure to agree on the content of the statement is likely to mean the issue will be discussed at next week’s COREPER meeting. Meanwhile, a survey carried out on behalf of the EU found that only a quarter of Greeks want Turkey to join the Union while 70 percent are opposed to the idea. Some 95 percent of Greeks questioned said that Ankara needed to improve its human rights record, according to the Eurobarometer poll.