The European Union members agreed on Monday over how to respond to Turkey's continued refusal to recognize Cyprus, clearing the way for EU membership talks to start with the country on Oct 3.
In a draft declaration EU states told Ankara that it must recognize the Cypriot government, but allowed it to do so any time up to the time of actual accession a process that could take at least a decade.
'Recognition of all member states is a necessary component of the accession process,' said the declaration, which was agreed by EU ambassadors in a special evening session. The declaration will be formally approved by ministers on Tuesday.
A spokesman for the British EU presidency said the way now appears open for the talks to start as planned. London had said it would be willing to call a special meeting of foreign ministers if no breakthrough had been made.
"The presidency is very confident that talks will begin on time," the spokesman said.
Leaders of the 25-member EU agreed last December to start EU membership talks with Turkey, reports Forbes.
According to Reuters, an earlier draft compromise from Britain read: "Recognition of all member states is a necessary component of the accession process."
The argument within the EU concerned a response to a Turkish statement in July which refused to recognize Cyprus.
Turkey met its last obligation before accession talks with the EU could start when, in July, it extended its customs union deal with the bloc to all new member states, including Cyprus.
However, Ankara has failed to open its ports to Cypriot vessels, despite the accord.
The EU declaration is set to demand deadlines for opening the ports, although probably only next year.
The British draft of the EU's "counter-declaration" called on Turkey to remove "all obstacles to the free movement of goods, including the restrictions on means of transport".
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