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Britain's Foreign Minister Opines on Turkey's EU Candidacy

AFX News Limited
British FM Jack Straw warns of crisis if Turkey talks falter
09.08.2005, 07:13 AM

LONDON (AFX) - British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has urged the European Union to forge ahead with entry talks with Turkey in order to expand the community of stable democracies, or risk a possible future crisis.

The leading diplomat for the current holder of the EU presidency made his case for the negotiations to begin October 3 in a commentary in the International Herald Tribune, hours before giving a keynote speech on Turkey in London.

'There is still a lot of detailed work to be done before October 3, but with goodwill it can be,' Straw wrote, after possible hurdles emerged over Turkey's refusal to recognize the government of EU member Cyprus.

'Yet it is clearly right that the European Union should now follow through on its decision to begin negotiations under tight European Commission supervision,' the opinion piece said.

'To do otherwise would not only compromise the credibility of the EU but might also endanger the considerable progress already made in Turkey.

'We should be very clear about the danger that represents. If we get it wrong now we could find that we have a crisis on our own doorstep,' he said.

EU leaders gave Turkey the green light to start membership negotiations last December despite the country's refusal to formally recognize the government of member state Cyprus, which has been divided since the Turkish military occupied the northern third of the island in 1974.

However last week foreign ministers of the 25-nation bloc failed to agree on a response to Turkey's reiteration that it does not recognize the government of Cyprus, one of 10 countries which joined the European bloc last year.

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