Speaking to the press on Monday (15 March) after meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Füle confirmed the European Commission's support for Turkey's EU bid but urged the country "to fully implement additional protocols and normalise relations with Cyprus" (see 'Background').
"A comprehensive settlement on Cyprus would be an historic breakthrough to the benefit of both Turkey and the EU," Füle said.
However, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoğlu said Turkey's accession talks should not be upset by "political problems that have no direct link to the EU process".
Recently, Turkey's EU minister and chief negotiator on accession, Egemen Bagiş, argued that since the Cyprus issue was not a prerequisite for the membership of Cyprus itself, neither should it be a prerequisite for the membership of another country (EurActiv 08/10/09).
Füle's predecessor, Olli Rehn, recently said that during his five years as enlargement commissioner all his ambitions had been realised with the exception of Cyprus, where reunification talks are still ongoing (EurActiv 26/11/09).
Of vice and virtue
In an article published in Turkish daily Hurriyet, Füle writes that he is convinced that Brussels and Ankara can turn around the vicious circle of a Cyprus stalemate and blocked accession negotiations. He expressed conviction that it will be possible to move "from a vicious circle into a virtuous one, provided there is political will of all actors involved".
Füle believes Turkey is a "key country" for the EU due to its location, size and strategic orientation. Repeating the answer he gave in the European Parliament at his confirmation hearing, when MEPs asked him if he could imagine a country like Turkey in the EU, he said his answer remained the same: "Yes, I can."
The enlargement commissioner also encouraged further progress in Turkish-Armenian relations. The two neighbouring countries sealed last September an historic deal to establish diplomatic ties and open their borders (EurActiv 01/09/09), but that process has since stalled.
Asked to comment on successive votes by a US congressional panel and the Swedish parliament branding the killings as "genocide" (EurActiv 12/03/10), Füle said: "As someone who comes from the former Czechoslovakia, from the Czech Republic, I know that politicising history makes reconciliation difficult."
The other issues on Füle's agenda was visa liberalisation, with Brussels and Ankara discussing a readmission agreement to cooperate in fighting illegal immigration. The commissioner said Turkish citizens would get Schengen visas more easily once the two sides had reached an agreement.
Davutoğlu, however, said visa liberalisation must be granted to Turkey once it has fulfilled the requirements.
The commissioner later met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, chief EU negotiator Egemen Bağış and several MPs. He also met the president of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu and representatives of TUSIAD - the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association.