European Union governments failed for the third time this month to overcome a split over Turkey's refusal to recognize Cyprus, imperiling plans to start membership talks on Oct. 3.
Diplomats from the EU's 25 nations remained deadlocked over a response to Turkey's diplomatic boycott of Cyprus, which joined the bloc last year. The dispute is distracting EU attention from a negotiating plan for Turkey that needs the backing of all member nations.
“There was a wide-ranging and difficult discussion,” Stavros Papagianneas, a spokesman for the Cypriot mission to the EU, said by telephone in Brussels today. Other EU nations “showed understanding for the Cypriot positions,” reports Bloomberg.
According to Reuters, at the same time, Ankara issued a declaration saying it refused to recognise the Cyprus government.
Brussels has also criticised Turkey for failing to open its ports to Cypriot vessels, despite the customs accord.
Cyprus wants a planned counter-declaration from the EU to include deadlines for Ankara to make progress in recognising the Cyprus government.
“We want improvements in the text. The intervention of France introduced some new important elements, but the general framework of the counter-declaration is not considered entirely satisfactory to our side,” said Cypriot government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides.
France earlier urged Cyprus to settle its differences with its EU partners to clear the way for the start of accession talks with Turkey.
The EU diplomat said Austria raised another obstacle in Brussels when it reiterated that the negotiating road map for Turkey should envisage "a privileged partnership" as a possible outcome of talks, rather than full membership.
Europe-wide polls have shown falling public support for Turkey's bid. Countries such as France and Austria face especially strong public pressure to oppose Ankara's entry.