EU diplomats to talk on Turkey's refusal to recognize Cyprus

British diplomats were to present a new compromise text to their European Union counterparts Friday in an attempt to agree on a joint declaration and negotiating position for Turkey's membership talks, diplomats said.

EU foreign ministers and ambassadors have failed over the past two weeks to get a common response to Ankara's refusal to recognize EU member Cyprus before the planned Oct. 3 opening of negotiations, the AP informs.

All 25 EU governments have to agree on a negotiating mandate for Turkey before the talks begin. Britain, which holds the EU presidency, is chairing the discussions. Diplomats have said that if the 25 ambassadors fail to reach agreement, the issue could go to emergency talks among EU foreign ministers on Sept. 26.

Britain and France have narrowed their differences and presented a joint draft declaration which said the member states "regret that Turkey felt it necessary to make a declaration" highlighting its refusing to recognize Cyprus.

Meeting the last precondition to entry talks, Turkey signed a deal in July extending a customs union with the EU to include Cyprus and nine other countries that joined the bloc in 2004. But Ankara upset many EU governments by adding a separate declaration stating its signature still fell short of recognition.

Cyprus is demanding Turkey recognize its government and wants a specific deadline for recognition during the entry talks.

The EU draft declaration warns that if Turkey does not allow Cypriot ships or planes full access, negotiations could be halted on all transport-related issues.

Cyprus, however, continued to insist on a stronger text, with demands to Turkey that it set a timetable for recognition.

The current draft calls for Turkey to normalize relations with "all EU member states, as soon as possible." EU ambassadors were to study the new text Friday afternoon.

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