EU welcomes Turkish support for new Cyprus talks

The European Commission on Monday hailed Turkey's support for the latest talks on a Cyprus settlement and welcomed its progress as a candidate member country in meeting EU standards.

The two sides "agreed how important a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus issue is for all our interests," EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said after he met Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

"I expressed how much we appreciate Turkey's support in recent weeks to help relaunch talks between the two sides" in Cyprus, Fuele said.

Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot leaders are to meet on Tuesday to restart talks on ending the island's four-decade division after a nearly two-year break, UN mediators announced over the weekend.

At the meeting, also attended by EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton, Fuele said that he had recognised "progress was indeed achieved last year in Turkey."

The opening of a new chapter in EU membership talks along with Turkey's adoption of judicial reform and democratisation packages, plus talks on visa liberalisation, "all gave fresh momentum to our cooperation and proved (the) strong desire of both sides to advance further," Fuele said.

Only last week, however, Fuele's spokesman had said that Turkey's new Internet law raised "serious concerns" over government control and the public's access to information.

Since Turkey was a candidate for EU membership, the law "needs to be revised in line with European standards," the spokesman said at the time.

On Monday, Fuele said: "In this context, with regard to the Internet law, the Commission agreed to share in writing a number of the concerns identified."

Critics of the Turkish government say its recent legal and other reforms could make already difficult talks on EU membership even more problematic for Ankara.