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Last Updated: Monday, 19 September 2005, 22:44 GMT 23:44 UK
EU clears Turkey-Cyprus hurdle
The Ottoman-era New Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey
Turkey refuses to recognise the Greek Cypriot government
European Union diplomats have resolved their differences over how to respond to Turkey's continued refusal to recognise Cyprus, an EU member state.

The deal clears the way for Turkey's EU entry talks to start on 3 October.

The EU states say Turkey must formally recognise the Cypriot government - but can do so at any time in the accession process, which could last 10 years.

The accord, agreed by ambassadors in Brussels after talks, is expected to be approved by EU ministers on Tuesday.

Recognition of all member states is a necessary component of the accession process
Draft declaration
A controversy over Cyprus blew up in July after Turkey extended its customs union with the EU to new member states, including Cyprus, but said this did not amount to recognition.

Turkey has also refused to let Cypriot ships and planes use its ports and airports. EU states say that represents a failure to fully implement the customs accord.

"Failure to implement its obligations in full will affect the overall progress in the negotiations," said the draft declaration agreed on Monday.

Cyprus concession

The declaration will be presented to Turkey along with a negotiating mandate when the accession talks begin on 3 October.

Map of Cyprus
Ambassadors will continue to discuss the mandate this week, but a spokesman for the British presidency of the EU said he was "very confident" that talks would begin on time.

Austria has been arguing that the framework should leave open the possibility of offering Turkey a "privileged partnership" instead of full membership - the original goal envisaged for the talks to aim at.

However, the British presidency spokesman told the AFP news agency that the ambassadors had "agreed not to reopen any of the issues in the negotiating framework".

The breakthrough on Monday came after Cyprus gave way on a demand for tough language requiring Turkey to make progress in recognising the Cypriot government.

According to some reports, it had demanded a specific deadline.

German result hailed

The new deal allows Turkey to recognise Cyprus at any stage during the accession negotiations, which are expected to take 10 years or more.

THE DEAL
No fixed deadline for recognition of Cyprus
Customs union must be implemented in full
Ambassadors to continue talks on negotiating mandate
Talks to start on time on 3 October
Turkey says it will recognise Cyprus only after an international agreement, possibly sponsored by the United Nations, to end the division of the island.

A UN peace plan was approved by Turkish Cypriots in a referendum in 2004, but rejected in a parallel vote in the Greek Cypriot south.

Cyprus has been split since Turkey invaded in 1974 in the wake of an abortive coup by supporters of union with Greece.

A number of EU countries are cool towards the idea of Turkey joining the EU.

Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party shares the Austrian government's view that Turkey should be offered something less than full membership.

Turkish leaders welcomed the fact that the CDU had not won an outright victory in Sunday's general election.

"It was an auspicious result for the EU process," said Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.


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