Athens gets EU deal it wanted

Athens expressed its delight yesterday with the final version of the counter-declaration that sets out criteria for Turkey’s EU membership process but a last-gasp objection from Nicosia prevented the document being adopted. The statement, which was agreed on in principle by the 25 member states, is expected to be formally approved today. After marathon negotiations, Greece is satisfied that its goals have been achieved. The text drafted by the British presidency of the EU singled out Turkey’s refusal to recognize Cyprus as being a unilateral decision and without legal basis. It calls on Turkey to fully enforce the EU customs deal it has signed up to with all the member states, and informs Ankara that its compliance will be monitored. If Turkey does not allow planes or ships from Cyprus, or any other member, into its airports and harbors then its membership negotiations will be affected. «These developments are of profound importance and were inconceivable a few years ago. They put the Cypriot problem in a more beneficial framework,» said Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos.