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Friday, 4 October, 2002, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK
Ten states listed for EU membership
Military vehicles take part in the Cyprus Independence Day military parade in Nicosia
Divided Cyprus "will be treated like the other candidates"
The European Commission is to recommend that 10 candidate countries should be invited to join the European Union in 2004, but it will not propose a date for Turkey to start accession talks.

The United States has been keen for Brussels to give Turkey an indication that it is making headway, but EU sources said Turkey did not yet either meet the economic or the human rights criteria.

Candidates shortlist
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Estonia
Hungary
Latvia
Lithuania
Malta
Poland
Slovakia
Slovenia
Brussels also wants to take into consideration next month's Turkish election.

"We can't take a position before the elections in Turkey, and Turkey's elections are in November," a source told the French news agency, AFP.

The commission will, however, suggest offering Turkey more aid.

The commission's recommendations, to be made in a report released next Wednesday, will be on the agenda of the EU summit in Brussels on 24 and 25 October, where a number of candidates will be told they could conclude entry talks in a matter of weeks.

If they do, they will then formally be invited to join at a summit in Copenhagen on 12 and 13 December.

As expected, the 10 named by the commission as frontrunners are Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta.

The EU executive will propose a target date of 2007 for Romania and Bulgaria to join the bloc, said a source quoted by the Reuters news agency.

Cyprus on the list

Turkey has already warned the EU that it will provoke a crisis if Brussels fails to set a date for starting membership talks by the end of the year.

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen
An Irish "yes" vote will open the door to EU enlargement

Next week's report also includes bad news for Turkey by making no distinction between Cyprus and the other front-ranking candidates despite the absence of a peace accord to reunite the divided Mediterranean island, the source said.

Turkey has threatened to annex the Turkish north if Cyprus joins the EU before a peace settlement.

Turkey invaded the island in 1974 in response to an Athens-engineered coup aimed at uniting it with Greece.

Greece, in turn, has said it will veto the entire enlargement process if Cyprus is kept out.

A further headache for Brussels is the forthcoming Irish referendum on the Nice Treaty, which sets out internal reforms to help the EU cope with new members.

Ireland is the only country which must hold a referendum to ratify the treaty - a second vote is set for 19 October, following its rejection at the first attempt last year.

EU officials say the Nice Treaty has to be in force by the end of this year to keep enlargement on schedule for 2004.

See also:

04 Oct 02 | Europe
03 Oct 02 | Europe
30 Sep 02 | Europe
18 Sep 02 | Europe
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