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EU Says Cyprus 'Serious Obstacle' for Turkey

The European Commission said on Wednesday that failure to settle the Cyprus issue could pose a “serious obstacle” to Turkey’s bid to open EU membership talks, rebuffing pressure from Ankara to avoid such linkage. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul vowed to step up efforts to end the decades-old division of the island by next May, when Cyprus joins the EU, but added that it should not be used to delay the opening of negotiations with his country. In its annual progress report, the Commission praised the year-old Turkish government for political and economic reforms which, if fully implemented, could help it win a start to accession negotiations when EU leaders decide in December 2004. But it also said: “The absence of a settlement (on Cyprus) could become a serious obstacle to Turkey’s EU aspirations.” Full Story

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