EU foreign ministers meet to discuss Iran, Turkey

18th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

18 July 2005, BRUSSELS - Foreign Ministers of the European Union began Monday a one-day session to review key policy issues, foremost among them the upcoming membership talks with Turkey and Iran's nuclear programme.

18 July 2005

BRUSSELS - Foreign Ministers of the European Union began Monday a one-day session to review key policy issues, foremost among them the upcoming membership talks with Turkey and Iran's nuclear programme.

Diplomatic sources in Brussels said that the ministers are to postpone approval of a negotiation mandate proposed by the European Commission until an informal summit to be held September 1 and 2.

The negotiation mandate, which must be approved by all E.U. member states, outlines detailed procedures for accession talks with Turkey.

A key element in the envisaged agreement is that Turkey may join the E.U. in 10 years' time, at the earliest. The membership talks with Turkey are set to start on October 3.

Political analysts in Brussels point to a new sense of caution around the E.U. about further expansion of the group which last year added 15 new Central and East European states to boost membership to 25 countries. Recent referendums in France and Netherlands rejecting the E.U. constitution reflect the uncertainties.

Also clouding the issue is the division of Cyprus, itself a new E.U. member.

Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou reiterated Monday Cyprus' position that negotiation talks can only begin when Turkey signs the so-called "Ankara Protocol", which would extend an existing Turkey- E.U. customs agreement to include the 10 E.U. newcomers.

Signing the document would for Turkey, which has occupied the northern part of Cyprus since 1974, be a de facto recognition of the Cypriot government.

Linked to the debate about Turkish membership talks, Slovakia is expected to push the E.U. to start talks with Croatia as soon as possible.

The talks with Croatia have been frozen since last March amid E.U. displeasure over Zagreb's lack of cooperation with the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Monday's session was also to see a briefing by Britain, France and Germany on those countries' joint efforts to persuade Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment programme.

DPA

Subject: German news

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