NEWS

Gap on Turkey deal not bridged

Hopes that EU diplomats would strike a deal on the counter-declaration to Turkey’s failure to recognize Cyprus were dashed again last night after Athens and Nicosia both rejected the fourth draft version of the statement. After weeks of talks, hopes were raised that yesterday’s meeting of the Council of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) in Brussels would be the last on the subject. Sources said the emergency meeting was called after contact between British and Cypriot diplomats, suggesting a deal was close. However, despite proposing a text that was closer to what Cyprus and Greece were looking for, the efforts of the British presidency fell short. Only an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers on September 26 seems likely to break the deadlock. The draft statement put to the EU envoys yesterday was tougher on Turkey than previous versions, informing Ankara that «failure to implement its obligations in full will affect the overall progress in the [membership] negotiations,» according to a copy of the document seen by Reuters. On the issue of recognition, the counter-declaration instructs Turkey that «prior recognition of all EU member states is a necessary component of accession» but sources said Nicosia wants it made clear that Ankara must recognize Cyprus during membership negotiations and not when it is about to enter the EU. Cyprus also wants the document to clarify that the normalization of relations between Ankara and Nicosia should be independent of any UN effort to reunify the island.