A European Commission spokesperson said today (8 November) she was unable to confirm media reports about "secret negotiations" aimed at unblocking Turkey's accession talks, in which Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle reportedly played a central role.
Over the last two weeks, the EU and Turkey have been conducting secret negotiations aimed at putting into practice the so-called Ankara Protocol from 2005.
Reportedly, this would allow the EU to unblock some of the accession chapters frozen as a result of Ankara's refusal to admit ships and aircraft from the Republic of Cyprus to Turkish ports and airports (see 'Background').
The main actor in the negotiations is Štefan Füle, reports Turkish newspaper Milliyet, describing a strategy of "mutual concessions".
The scenario described would see Turkey open one or more of its ports to ships from the Republic of Cyprus. In exchange, one or more EU countries would start flights to Ercan airport on the territory of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognised only by Ankara.
On this basis, the negotiation talks could be unblocked, Milliyet writes.
The reports in the Turkish press are "interesting" and sound "like a spy novel," Angela Filote, Füle's spokesperson, told the Brussels press today. Pressed by questions, she basically said she had no personal knowledge of whether the talks described by Milliyet had actually taken place. But she did not deny the reports either.
Press reports seem to coincide with earlier statements by Turkish high officials.
"If Spanish, Dutch, German and French planes land at Ercan airport [in Northern Cyprus], if other European ships unload containers in Northern Cyprus, then Greek Cypriot planes and vessels are welcome to come," Ba??? said.
Cyprus has also indicated some flexibility. The country's president, Demetris Christofias, outlined a proposal on 11 October that could speed up the island's reunification talks by opening the port of Famagusta, which is now a ghost city, to international trade.
According to Milliyet, EU leaders meeting in Brussels on 16-17 December will take decisions concerning the unblocking of Turkey's accession bid. The worst-case scenario, the daily writes, would see Turkey's negotiations remain completely blocked over the Ankara Protocol.