The European Union resolved its differences yesterday 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 recognise 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.
It is thought that although Turkey must recognise Cyprus it can do so at any time during accession talks, which could last up to 10 years, Euro News reports.
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, according to Forbes.
Officials from all 25 member countries met in view of Turkey's entry talks, due to start on October 3.
In the declaration finalised yesterday evening, the EU also warned that failure by Turkey to fully implement the customs accord - notably by letting Cypriot ships and planes use its ports and airports - will slow the pace of talks.
As well as the 'counter-declaration,' EU states have also divided over what is called the framework for negotiations - a document setting out the aims, scope and so forth of the talks.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea