EU Commission Sees Turkey Accession Talks on Target for October 3

BRUSSELS (AFX)–The European Union’s executive commission said on Wednesday it still expects accession negotiations with Turkey to open as scheduled on Oct 3–amid French pressure for a delay.

"As far as the views of the commission are concerned–the commission presented the negotiation framework for Turkey before the summer break… and of course it hopes and expects this will be adopted by the member states," said Krisztina Nagy–spokeswoman for EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn.

At the beginning of the month–French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin poured cold water on the prospect of the talks starting on time as long as Ankara does not recognize EU member Cyprus.

Nagy said that–for the commission–Turkey had met the conditions set for opening the talks–namely carrying out a package of legal reforms and adopting a customs agreement with the EU.

"There were two preconditions set for the opening of the start of the negotiations….these two things have happened."

EU foreign ministers will have their chance to address the question of accession talks with Turkey at an informal meeting in the Welsh city of Newport on Sept 1-2.

Ahead of that meeting–EU ambassadors are to discuss the issue on Aug 31.

Turkey only recognizes the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus–proclaimed in 1983–nine years after Turkish troops occupied the northern third of Cyprus in response to an Athens-engineered Greek Cypriot coup in Nicosia aimed at uniting the Mediterranean island with Greece.

Turkey says its position towards the Greek Cypriot administration will remain unchanged until the conflict is resolved and the Turkish and Greek communities of the island are reunified.

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