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Euro MP warns Turkey about EU obligations
2003-03-27 14:10:04

by Nicos Bellos -- Brussels, Mar 26 (CNA) -- It is inconceivable for Turkey to begin accession negotiations with the European Union before a political settlement of the Cyprus question, Arie Oostlander, rapporteur for Turkey's EU membership at the European Parliament, has said.

The Euro MP warned Ankara that Cyprus could prove to be a very big obstacle in its course to EU accession and said that Turkey's possible military intervention in Iraqi territory would jeopardise further the country's European aspirations.

He said that unless the Turkish government severs its links with the military, it will not achieve anything.

Meanwhile today the European Commission will put forward suggestions to double Community resources to Turkey, as part of the EU decisions taken at December's summit.|

Oostlander told the Committee of Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament that if Turkey ignores the EU principle for good neighbourly relations, it would be inconceivable to start membership talks with Ankara, which occupied part of the territory of an EU member.

Turkish troops have been occupying Cyprus' northern areas since they invaded in July 1974, in spite of repeated UN calls to withdraw. Numerous UN-led peace negotiations to end the division and the continuing occupation of the island have so far failed to produce any result because of the Turkish side's intransigent stance.

Cyprus, along with another nine acceding countries, will sign the Accession Treaty next month in Athens and will become officially an EU member in May 2004.

The Dutch Euro MP said Cyprus would not concede to Turkey's accession, if there is no solution of its political problem, a view which Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan understands.

''Cyprus could prove to be a very big obstacle on Turkey's way towards the European Union,'' he said.

He said that first indications from the Turkish government were that it had adopted a more transigent position on Cyprus but because the military in Turkey opposed a UN peace proposal for a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus, the government was faced with the intransigent positions of the Turkish Cypriot leader (Rauf Denktash), which led the latest peace effort to failure.

Referring to Turkish attempts to meet the political criteria for accession, he said there are many problems in this regard, including the non solution of the Cyprus issue, which do not allow the EU to define any timeframe relating to Turkey.

The Turkish establishment, he pointed out, does not operate in line with EU principles and noted the ubiquitous presence of the military on the pretext of safeguarding the country's national interests.

On the situation in Iraq, Oostlander said that if Turkey gets involved militarily in Iraqi territory, this would create an additional problem in that Ankara would essentially violating the principle of good neighbourliness.

The MP referred to the problem of political detainees in Turkey, described Turkey's eastern areas as under occupation because of the discrimination that exists there against the Kurds and said unless the government severs its ties with the military, it will not be able to achieve anything.

In a different development about Turkey in the EU, the European Commission will suggest today to double Community assistance to this applicant country and will define the preconditions Ankara has to meet, including continuing political and economic reforms, support for UN efforts to solve the Cyprus question and settle territorial differences with neighbouring countries.

EU enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen's proposals will be submitted for discussion and approval to the Council of Ministers, probably in April.


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