On his first visit to Turkey, Cameron denounced the "frustrating progress" made on Ankara's road to EU membership.
"I'm here to make the case for Turkey's membership of the EU. And to fight for it," he said at a joint press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkey started accession negotiations with the EU in 2005, but thus far not even half of the 35 negotiating chapters have been opened (see EurActiv LinksDossier on EU-Turkey relations).
Eight chapters remain blocked: five by France, three by Austria and Germany and two by Cyprus, according to reports.
Without naming France and Germany, which have suggested substituting Turkey's EU accession with a "privileged partnership," Cameron spoke about the "prejudice" suffered by Ankara.
He said those who oppose Turkish accession fell into three categories: protectionists who see Turkey's growing economic power as a threat, "the polarised" who think the country should choose between East and West and the "prejudiced" who "willfully misunderstand Islam".
"I will always argue that the values of real Islam are not incompatible with the values of Europe. That Europe is defined not by religion, but by values," Cameron said.
Asked to comment on Cameron's statements, a Commission spokesperson said Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle "welcomed" the UK prime minister's blast against anti-Muslim prejudice.
"We're glad that the UK is helping to encourage [Turkey's accession] process," he added.
Fast track for Iceland
Cameron's comments coincided with the formal opening of Iceland's EU accession negotiations, just one year after the Nordic country applied for EU membership.
The screening process of Iceland's legislation will start in November, Füle announced. "We hope to finish this process before summer next year," he said, voicing optimism about the pace of the negotiations.
He ensured that negotiations will address from the beginning the most controversial issues between Brussels and Reykjavik, such as fisheries, agriculture, environment and financial services, but also judicial reform, conflict of interest and free movement of capital (EurActiv 27/07/10).
The commissioner did not rule out the possibility that "on some of the chapters we will be able to open negotiations even before all the screening process is over".
Icelandic Foreign Minister Össur Skarphedinsson confirmed his willingness to find compromises with the EU on those matters, and was quick to stress that "we don't come empty-handed".
Speaking at a joint press conference with Enlargement Commissioner Füle and the Belgian EU Presidency, Skarphedinsson said Iceland could offer the EU its know-how in geothermal energy. Indeed, this renewable energy source represents a key resource for the island, while it is still underdeveloped in the rest of Europe, he said.
The Nordic foreign minister also drew attention to the geopolitical role which Iceland is expected to play as a consequence of melting ice caps in the Arctic, which is believed to host one fifth of the world's unexploited oil and gas resources.
He also offered local Icelandic expertise in fisheries as a means of improving the EU's method of guaranteeing the long-term sustainability of stocks, using for his country's benefit a subject which is a cause for concern in Europe.
Brussels wants to ban whale hunting but Reykjavik insists that it is part of the island's culture and is conducted in a sustainable way without endangering whales.
"Whaling is not a problem. Sometimes it seems so, but it is also clear that we have conducted sustainable whaling. What we cannot say beforehand is that Iceland should stop whaling. It is one of the difficult issues that we have to address during negotiations. But I am sure we will find a solution," he insisted.
As for the financial controversy with the UK and the Netherlands over the Icesave bank, Skarphedinsson stressed once again that this was a bilateral issue. "I do not anticipate that it will interfere in negotiations, and if it does, I would deplore it," he said.
The last obstacle to Iceland's EU accession could come from within the country itself, where a majority of people are still against accession. A referendum will be necessary to give the final green light to eventual membership.
Commissioner Füle acknowledged that he was "concerned by the lack of support for EU membership among Icelandic people". "There is a need for better information about the EU in Iceland," he underlined.
Serbia neglected too?
Echoing Cameron's remarks about Turkey, several EU countries feel that Brussels is also neglecting Serbia, especially after the recent ruling of the International Court of Justice which confirmed the legality of Kosovo's declaration of independence.
Earlier this week, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini called for a clear move in favour of Serbia's EU accession.
He said this would mean "transferring the relevant files from the Council Secretariat to the Commission" in order to get an opinion on Belgrade's candidacy, a crucial step in the EU's lengthy procedures.
At the same meeting, other EU countries showed sympathy with Serbia, but EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton dampened spirits by stressing that no discussions on the speed of EU-Serbia talks had formally taken place during the Council.
Instead, more conciliatory words came from the Belgian EU Presidency.
"We want to show our willingness to go on with all countries which aspire to become members of the EU. The Icelandic process should give a positive impetus to relations with Iceland, but by no means should it be understood as an exclusive process. It is a sign that enlargement is very important for us," said acting Belgian Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere yesterday.