gogu 16 Jun 2006 Spiegel Online - "Turkey's Obligations to Europe": 13 June 2006 Accession talks between the European Union and Turkey get the go ahead after foreign ministers agree to demand that Ankara open its ports and airports to trade with Greek Cyprus. But in Germany, where public opinion is divided over Turkish membership in the EU, reactions are mixed. At first, it looked like the first day of talks between Turkey and the European Union for eventual membership in the elite club would fall through. Veto-wielding Greek Cyprus threatened to derail the talks if other EU member states didn't insist that Ankara open its ports and airports to all European Union member states, including Greek Cyprus. Turkey Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul only traveled to Luxembourg on Monday after it was clear that EU accession talks would begin. Turkey agreed to do so nearly a year ago but still hasn't moved to implement the plan. EU foreign ministers agreed that Turkey must do so or there will be delays in negotiations over its possible future membership. After reaching the agreement, Cyprus dropped its objections to opening talks and, after a delay, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul boarded a jet for the talks in Luxembourg. Once there, Turkey and the EU wrapped up talks on science and research, the first and least contentious of 35 areas of EU policy. Cyprus joined the EU in May 2004, although it's been tensely divided between Greek and Turkish claims since 1974. Turkey occupies the northern third of the island, where many Turks don't want to live under Greek Cypriot rule. For a number of years, the United Nations has been seeking to broker a deal to reunite the island's two halves. As with the German population, the country's newspapers also hold a mixed view of the latest developments on Turkey's path to EU membership. The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung expresses its "deep concern" over the initial threats made by the Greek Cypriots on Monday to stall negotiations with Ankara. Two years ago, the paper notes, Greek Cypriots rejected a referendum to reunite the island -- largely because they didn't want to recognize the right of Anatolian settlers to remain in Cyprus and they were unhappy about the presence of the Turkish military. Consequently, Turkey refused to expand the customs union it had agreed to with the EU to include the Greek Cypriots. The paper argues that it was the Greek Cypriots -- with their fervant desire to join a "Great Greece" that instilled fear in the hearts of Turkish Cypriots and eventually triggered the invasion of northern Cyprus by a Turkish occupying force in 1974. Two years ago, the northern Cypriots voted to reunite with the south. They were, of course, deeply disappointed when Greek Cypriots spurned their overture. But southern Cyprus is suffering from its decision -- and the economy and tourism is now booming in the far prettier Turkish half, the paper writes. "The northern part of Cyprus is dealing with facts," the paper concludes, "but southern Cyprus is just further isolating itself in the EU." Germany's two major conservative papers take a more critical view of Ankara. Noting that Ankara agreed to a customs union with all the new EU member states, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung calls Turkey's failure to implement the deal "absurd." Turkey, it argues, has "thus far failed to comply with the regulations because it does not want to recognize Greek Cyprus. Ankara wants to become a member of the EU ... yet it doesn't want to recognize a member." The warning the EU has given Ankara about keep its committments is to be expected. "Yes, it's true that the decision to begin talks was made last October -- and there was a lot of dishonesty at play then," including the way Europe treated Turkey, "and the Europeans have to keep their promise, too." But it's also true, the paper adds, that Turkey's eventual membership in the EU is not seen as a strategic goal by every member state. And each of the 35 negotiating issues must be opened and closed with every member state on the same page. "Unanimity means unanimity, and that's just the way it goes," the paper writes. The arguments in favor of Turkey's accession stand against good reasons to reject it. For that reason, the paper concludes, "talks must now be held honestly and with the end results (of those talks) 'truly open.'" A year ago, Die Welt writes, Turkey would have signed just about anything in order to get talks started with the EU. A year on, Turkey has failed to fulfil the pledges it made to extend the customs agreement to include the 10 new members -- and Brussels has just looked on "helplessly." On Monday, however, "the 25-member states sent a clear message that accession talks will fail if Ankara continues with the same tactics it has used up until now." Ankara, it adds, does not acknowledge Cyprus and does not ahere to the customs union even though it signed an agreement with the EU. "Whether or not negotiations continue or not will now largely rest on whether Turkey implements the customs union and recognizes Cyprus." The Financial Times Deutschland describes the 11th hour deal in Luxembourg as a "typical EU compromise" -- in other words, it just couldn't be cut without the greatest possible diplomatic drama. The paper writes that Cypress is entitled to demand that Ankara quickly recognize the government of the Greek half of the island and that it expand its customs union. "It's unimaginable that the EU would spend years negotiating with a Turkey that refused to recognize one of its member states," the paper adds. Still, there was no reason on Monday to let negotiations falter on the topic of research and science. Turkey is already fulfilling Europe's demands in this area and talks should therefore move forward in this area. "There will be more opportune times ahead for the EU to denounce Turkish deficiencies if that is necessary," it adds. Finally, the paper writes, "Cyprus needs to stop threatening Turkey. Not only because it is impossible to establish normal relations on Cyprus without Turkey, but also because each part of the island can contribute to the normalization of relations ... The people of Cyprus need to realize how bad destructive politics looks in Brussels."