EC: Tur­key com­mit­ment to a Cyprus so­lu­tion ‘cru­cial’

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Tur­key’s com­mit­ment and con­tri­bu­tion to a com­pre­hen­sive set­tle­ment of the Cyprus prob­lem re­mains cru­cial, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s Tur­key said as part of the 2015 en­large­ment pack­age.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, Tur­key has still not ful­filled its obli­ga­tion to en­sure full and non-dis­crim­i­na­tory im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Ad­di­tional Pro­to­col to the As­so­ci­a­tion Agree­ment and has not re­moved all ob­sta­cles to the free move­ment of goods, in­clud­ing re­stric­tions on di­rect trans­port links with Cyprus. In ad­di­tion, the re­port noted that “there was no progress on nor­mal­is­ing bi­lat­eral re­la­tions with the Repub­lic of Cyprus”.

It noted that the con­clu­sions on Tur­key that were adopted by the Coun­cil and en­dorsed by the Euro­pean Coun­cil in De­cem­ber 2006 re­main in force.

“They stip­u­late that ne­go­ti­a­tions will not be opened on eight chap­ters re­lat­ing to Tur­key’s re­stric­tions re­gard­ing the Repub­lic of Cyprus and no chap­ter will be pro­vi­sion­ally closed un­til the Com­mis­sion con­firms that Tur­key has fully im­ple­mented the Ad­di­tional Pro­to­col to the As­so­ci­a­tion Agree­ment”.

As re­gards the Cyprus is­sue, it noted that Tur­key wel­comed the re­sump­tion of the talks on a com­pre­hen­sive set­tle­ment be­tween the lead­ers of the two com­mu­ni­ties in May 2015, ex­press­ing its sup­port for the UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral’s Spe­cial Ad­vi­sor’s ef­forts and for the newly elected leader of the Turk­ish Cypriot Com­mu­nity.

“Tur­key had how­ever pre­vi­ously, from Oc­to­ber to April, is­sued state­ments and en­gaged into ac­tions chal­leng­ing the Repub­lic of Cyprus’s right to ex­ploit hy­dro­car­bon re­sources in Cyprus’s Ex­clu­sive Eco­nomic Zone for the ben­e­fit of all Cypri­ots”.

The Com­mis­sion said that the EU has re­peat­edly stressed the sov­er­eign rights of EU mem­ber states which in­clude en­ter­ing into bi­lat­eral agree­ments, and ex­plor­ing and ex­ploit­ing their nat­u­ral re­sources in ac­cor­dance with the EU ac­quis and in­ter­na­tional law, in­clud­ing the UN Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea.

It also notes that the EU also stressed the need to re­spect the sovereignty of mem­ber states over their ter­ri­to­rial sea and airspace.

It added that the process of grant­ing the Com­mit­tee on Miss­ing Per­sons full ac­cess to all rel­e­vant ar­chives and mil­i­tary ar­eas needs to be ex­pe­dited.

The Com­mis­sion noted that Tur­key con­tin­ued to veto the Repub­lic of Cyprus join­ing sev­eral in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions, such as the OECD.

The Com­mis­sion also refers to the lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween air traf­fic con­trol cen­tres in Tur­key and Cyprus and notes that it “con­tin­ues to se­ri­ously compromise air safety in the Ni­cosia flight in­for­ma­tion re­gion. An op­er­a­tional so­lu­tion needs to be found ur­gently to re­solve this safety is­sue”.

In ad­di­tion, it says that as long as re­stric­tions re­main in place on ves­sels and air­crafts reg­is­tered in or re­lated to Cyprus or whose last port of call was in Cyprus, Tur­key will not be in a po­si­tion to fully im­ple­ment the ac­quis re­lat­ing to this chap­ter.

As re­gards Tur­key’s e-visa sys­tem in­tro­duced in 2013 it said that “the sys­tem con­tin­ues to dis­crim­i­nate against de facto ap­pli­cants from the Repub­lic of Cyprus by re­fer­ring to the coun­try op­tion Greek Cypriot Ad­min­is­tra­tion of South­ern Cyprus.”

It adds that good progress has been made to­wards the open­ing of chap­ter 17 - eco­nomic and mon­e­tary pol­icy – (blocked by France) which would un­der­pin the en­vis­aged high level eco­nomic di­a­logue.

At the same time, the re­port neg­a­tive trend in the re­spect for fun­da­men­tal rights.

Sig­nif­i­cant short­com­ings af­fected the ju­di­ciary as well as free­dom of ex­pres­sion and free­dom of assem­bly and Tur­key em­pha­sises an over­all

the rule of law and saw a se­vere de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of its se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion.

“The set­tle­ment process of the Kur­dish is­sue came to a halt de­spite ear­lier pos­i­tive devel­op­ments on the is­sue. It is im­per­a­tive that the peace talks re­sume,” the EC re­port un­der­lined.

The Cyprus gov­ern­ment said it is in gen­eral sat­is­fied with the con­tents of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion re­port for Tur­key, adding that it will study in depth the con­tents of the re­port and will present its views in de­tail to the rel­e­vant EU in­sti­tu­tions in view of the eval­u­a­tion of Tur­key’s ac­ces­sion process in De­cem­ber by the Euro­pean Coun­cil.

Re­gard­ing the Com­mis­sion’s in­ten­tion to sub­mit re­vised doc­u­ments on chap­ters that Cyprus has blocked in 2009, the gov­ern­ment pointed out that the rea­sons that it de­cided to block the chap­ters re­main and ac­cord­ing to what the Com­mis­sion men­tions in the re­port, the in­clu­sion of re­vised doc­u­ments does not pre­judge the dis­cus­sions in the Coun­cil nor the po­si­tions of mem­ber states.

Mean­while, Com­mis­sioner Jo­hannes Hahn told the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee on Tues­day that the refugee cri­sis has “re­in­forced the strate­gic case for close co­op­er­a­tion with the coun­tries in south-east Europe”. Pre­sent­ing the an­nual en­large­ment pack­age on the can­di­date and po­ten­tial can­di­date coun­tries, he also stressed that the fo­cus on the rule of law and ba­sic free­doms - “fun­da­men­tals first” - in the ac­ces­sion process shall con­tinue to be the back­bone of the en­large­ment pol­icy. In the de­bate, MEPs stressed the need for sus­tained en­large­ment process.

Richard Howitt (S&D, UK), on be­half of rap­por­teur on Tur­key Kati Piri (S&D, NL), con­firmed his group’s com­mit­ment to EU en­large­ment while re­gret­ting “any slow­down” of the process. “The refugee cri­sis must not dis­tort the en­large­ment”, he said be­fore quizzing the Com­mis­sioner on the new ne­go­ti­a­tion chap­ters to be opened with Tur­key re­fer­ring par­tic­u­larly to chap­ters 23 and 24 of the EU ac­quis.

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