France and Germany step up pressure on Turkey

France and Germany have signalled their intention to set an 18-month deadline for Turkey to open trade links with Cyprus.

Foreign ministers are to decide on 11 December 2006 whether to follow the Commission’s recommendation to partially suspend talks with Turkey (see EURACTIV, 29 November 2006). The Commission hopes that member states can reach agreement in order to avoid returning to the issue at the European Council on 14-15 December 2006.

French President Jacques Chirac is to support German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s bid to set an 18-month deadline for Turkey to comply with the Ankara Protocol and open its ports and airports to ships and planes from Cyprus, according to the FT. Chirac and Merkel are to hold a bilateral meeting on 5 December 2005.

Following the Commission’s recommendation, Merkel announced: “A stronger verification clause would be desirable so that the Council can review Turkey’s progress, perhaps in 18 months time.”

Cyprus, Greece and Austria are also likely to opt for a tougher stance on Turkey, while the UK and the Nordic countries are against further obstacles.

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