Turkey against politics affecting EU accession talks

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan Prague  - Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said on Tuesday that his country's accession talks with the European Union should advance despite divisive political issues that have so far blocked progress.

Speaking after talks with EU leaders in Prague, Babacan said that "political issues should not be allowed to influence the accession negotiations with Turkey.

"All chapters that are technically ready should be opened," he said, adding that Turkey had "every reason to move forward" although it won't be ready to join the
27-member bloc any time soon.

In the four years since the accession negotiations started in 2005, talks began on 10 of 35 chapters, which must be completed before Turkey's EU entry.

France, which has opposed Turkey's EU membership, has been blocking further negotiations. Ankara's unwillingness to recognize the Greek part of Cyprus, an island state which has joined the EU in 2004, has also obstructed the talks.

The EU has placed its bets on talks between Cyprus's Greek and Turkish leaders aimed at unifying the eastern Mediterranean island.

"One concrete task that is ahead of us this year is of course overcoming the division of Cyprus," said Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country is due to chair the EU from July 1.

"We have a unique window of opportunity that must not be missed," Bildt said, adding that unifying Cyprus would have a "profound positive impact" on Europe.

Cyprus has been divided into a Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot north since the 1974 Turkish invasion in response to a coup by Greek Cypriots seeking unification of the island with mainland Greece. (dpa)