MEPs urge freeze of EU-Turkey ac­ces­sion ne­go­ti­a­tions as Cyprus talks stalled

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Mem­bers of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment have urged the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion and mem­ber states to im­pose a tem­po­rary freeze on EU ac­ces­sion talks with Turkey, but the door for di­a­logue should re­main open, un­less Turkey in­tro­duces cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment. A res­o­lu­tion will be put to a vote on Thurs­day.

The de­ci­sion fol­lows Mon­day’s dead­lock in the talks on Cyprus, with Turk­ish Cypriot leader Mustafa Ak­inci blam­ing the Greek Cypriot side for stalling the process.

In a de­bate with EU for­eign pol­icy chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini, Man­fred We­ber, head of the cen­tre-right Euro­pean Peo­ple’s Party said, “No busi­ness as usual with Turkey, we sup­port a freeze of EU ac­ces­sion ne­go­ti­a­tions.”

He said he urges his group to freeze re­la­tions as ne­go­ti­a­tions can­not con­tinue un­der these cir­cum­stances and if the death penalty is im­posed, then Turkey can­not be­come a mem­ber of the EU. We want a Turkey that is sta­ble and demo­cratic, he added.

Gianni Pit­tella, leader of the So­cial­ist group, the sec­ond big­gest in the as­sem­bly, added: “Turkey’s EU ac­ces­sion talks must be tem­po­rar­ily frozen. There are not the con­di­tions to pro­ceed now.”

He said that un­der prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayip Er­do­gan, Turkey is be­com­ing an au­thor­i­tar­ian regime and said that his mes­sage to Turkey is that hu­man rights, civil rights and democ­racy are non-ne­go­tiable if you want to be part of the EU.

Lib­eral leader Guy Ver­hof­s­tadt said that his group too was “ask­ing to sus­pend the ne­go­ti­a­tions with Turkey.”

Cypriot MEPs also urged for freez­ing ac­ces­sion ne­go­ti­a­tions with Turkey and even called for eco­nomic sanc­tions to be im­posed.

DISY/EPP mem­ber Lef­teris Christo­forou said the EU must ac­knowl­edge that there was been a longterm tol­er­ance, im­punity and favouritism to­wards Turkey by the EU. Hu­man rights, he said, are vi­o­lated by Turkey in an EU mem­ber state, Cyprus, as it is un­der in­va­sion and oc­cu­pa­tion.

He said that Turkey is to blame for the col­lapse of the talks in Mont Pelerin on Cyprus and that it is the oc­cu­pa­tion force that cre­ated the Cyprus prob­lem and the only one that can solve it in 24 hours. It is high time the EU and other pow­ers to ex­ert real pres­sure to force it to solve the Cyprus prob­lem.

In his in­ter­ven­tion, Takis Had­ji­ge­or­giou, mem­ber of AKEL and the Euro­pean United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) said that the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment would have lost the last shred of dig­nity if it did not take ac­tion.

Demetris Pa­padakis, mem­ber of the So­cial­ist EDEK and Pro­gres­sive Al­liance of So­cial­ists and Democrats (S&D) said now is the time to see what kind of a Turkey we want and whether our at­ti­tude so far has helped to have a demo­cratic Turkey. He said that we want a demo­cratic Turkey that will re­spect the rights of its ci­ti­zens, re­spect the sovereignty of its neigh­bour­hood states and will not oc­cupy smaller states in its re­gion.

Euro­pean Con­ser­va­tives and Re­formists mem­ber Eleni Theo­harous, head of the Sol­i­dar­ity party called for sanc­tions against Turkey.

She said that Cypri­ots are not de­mand­ing any­thing more than Euro­pean ci­ti­zens en­joy, that is re­spect of hu­man rights.

Costas Mavrides of DIKO and the Pro­gres­sive Al­liance of So­cial­ists and Democrats (S&D), in a writ­ten in­ter­ven­tion to the de­bate, said that the res­o­lu­tion which the MEPs are dis­cussing con­tains lan­guage in the right di­rec­tion but it comes years late.

Freez­ing ac­ces­sion chap­ters would have had sub­stan­tive pres­sure on Turkey if it was ac­com­pa­nied by a change in demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions. To­day’s de­vel­op­ment al­beit sends a po­lit­i­cal mes­sage, it does not ex­ert any mean­ing­ful pres­sure on the Er­do­gan regime. He pro­posed the way to put pres­sure on Turkey is to im­pose eco­nomic sanc­tions.

Mean­while, the UN an­nounced that the Sec­re­tary Gen­eral will be briefed by his Spe­cial Ad­vi­sor on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide and they will see what is the best way for­ward in or­der to de­ploy the Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral’s per­sonal ef­forts, a UN Spokesman told the re­porters on Tues­day in New York.

“While the in­ten­sive talks in Mont Pelerin didn’t achieve the de­sired out­come, the SG is con­fi­dent that the two lead­ers will rise above the cur­rent chal­lenges in the process,” Stephane Du­jar­ric said.

“He is also hope­ful that they will con­tinue to work tire­lessly as they have done so far to­wards reach­ing a set­tle­ment within 2016, for the ben­e­fit of all Cypri­ots. The UN and the SG per­son­ally they will con­tinue to sup­port these ef­forts,” he noted.

The com­ments came hours af­ter talks on the is­sue of ter­ri­tory be­tween Pres­i­dent Ni­cos Anas­tasi­ades and Turk­ish Cypriot leader Mustafa Ak­inci failed to yield an agree­ment on the cri­te­ria re­lat­ing to ter­ri­to­rial ad­just­ments, a de­vel­op­ment which would have taken the peace process for­ward.

“It is im­por­tant that we look for­ward to­wards a con­struc­tive fu­ture,” a UN spokesper­son in Cyprus told CNA. The UN, he added, “do not want to play the blame game.”

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