December 21, 2006, Thursday

Greeks Block Finland, only one Chapter to be Opened

The European Union has yielded to another demand from Greek Cyprus.

Despite the insistence of EU term president Finland, the European Union decided to open only one EU accession chapter for negotiations with Turkey.

The other three chapters, for which all technical preparations were completed, were vetoed by the Greek Cypriots.

An invitation letter for the opening of Chapter 20, Business and Industrial Policy, is expected to be sent to Turkey today.

Finland must subsequently postpone the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) with Turkey because of the Greek Cypriot veto. The IGC will start actual negotiations in three chapters with Croatia today.

EU talks with Turkey and Croatia that have so far proceeded at the same pace will be separated. Croatia will be sent a separate invitation letter for a chapter.

Finland proposed starting actual negotiations with Turkey in six chapters in yesterday’s Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) meeting.

Finland took a surprise step and proposed sending Ankara an invitation letter on Chapter 11, “Agriculture and Rural Development.” The commission had recommended freezing this chapter on Nov. 29 and the EU leaders approved it.

Finland thinks the freezing of the eight chapters will be suspended in the IGC, and therefore all technical preparations for the eight chapters can be completed. However, Greek Cypriots, backed by Greece, blocked starting actual negotiations in chapters other than Chapter 20.

In Tuesday’s meeting, the British proposal to wait for January for new talks was met with surprise. London said there was no change with their approach toward Turkey and that they had proposed this due to the Christmas holiday.

The invitation letter for actual negotiations over Chapter 20 was communicated to Turkey’s Permanent Representative Office in Brussels. There was no opening criterion in the invitation letter.

Following the European Union’s decision to freeze eight chapters with Turkey and start actual negotiations immediately in chapters where preparation were completed, Finland made great efforts to send Turkey invitation letters in the seven chapters that are ready, and toward opening a chapter during their own term presidency.

Finland joined the COREPER meeting with a “6+1” proposal yesterday but the EU members that convened at the level of working group on Friday, Monday and Tuesday in an effort to persuade the Greek Cypriots managed to reach an agreement on one chapter only.

Chapter 20 was approved with no discussion, but other chapters were objected to by the Greek Cypriots in yesterday’s COREPER meeting.

Greek Cypriots Backed by Greece

Starting actual negotiations in other chapters with Turkey is now left to Germany, which will take over the rotating EU presidency on Jan. 1.

Discussions on other chapters are expected to be handled at the COREPER meeting on Jan. 10.

The seven chapters proposed by Finland yesterday are as follows:

Chapter 4: Free Circulation of Capital

Chapter 7: Intellectual Property Law

Chapter 11: Agriculture and Rural Development

Chapter 17: Economic and Monetary Policy

Chapter 19: Social Policy and Employment

Chapter 20: Enterprise and Industrial Policy

Chapter 32: Financial Control

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