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Media Watch 2004

17 December 2004
Source: EU Business
Author:
Comment: The following is an AFP report of EU Business of 17 December 2004.
Turkish PM attacked for 'carpet trader' style with EU
" "We were gobsmacked," said Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn, describing the mood when Erdogan bluntly told EU leaders that there was no way he could recognize Cyprus."

"We were gobsmacked," said Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn, describing the mood when Erdogan bluntly told EU leaders that there was no way he could recognize Cyprus.

"Everything had been finished. There had been terrible wrangling to agree a text. The summit had officially finished," he said at the end of the two-day summit, at which the EU agreed to start entry talks with Ankara next October.

"And then suddenly Mr. Erdogan started to talk about the recognition of Cyprus, in a provocative and quite aggressive way in my view," he told reporters.

Erdogan's behaviour irked everyone present, he said. "What many colleagues say, (that) Turkish politicians still have things to learn, is quite right. We are not carpet traders here in Europe."

The summit was almost derailed by a standoff over Cyprus, whose Greek Cypriot government Turkey refuses to recognise, but Erdogan in the end convinced the EU to give him a green light by vowing to sign a key EU accord -- which Erdogan promptly said did not amount to acknowledging Cyprus.

The talks will start on October 3, and are expected to last at least a decade.

"We back and will continue to back accession talks with Turkey," said Asselborn. "But what we cannot accept is to start discussing again and calling back into question something fundamental like the recognition of Cyprus."

"If we want to start the membership negotiations calmly on October 3, politically Turkey needs to make a very important step to recognize Cyprus," he added."