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Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus on Turkey/EU - 11/10/2004
2004-10-22 10:58:01

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus will carefully review and evaluate the Report and the Recommendation of the European Commission on Turkey’s progress towards accession.

On a first reading, and while noting the adoption of several legislative reform packages, the Government of the Republic of Cyprus agrees that a lot of work remains to be done, particularly as regards actual implementation of legislative measures, before Turkey is considered to have fully complied with the EU criteria for membership. The Commission’s recommendations regarding the modalities, terms and conditions of any accession negotiations with Turkey, inevitably reflect this reality.

It is of course, up to the Governments of all 25 member states to assess the situation and take a decision at the December European Council on whether to commence accession negotiations with Turkey and, if so, set the date and criteria for the conduct of these negotiations.

The Report explicitly and implicitly refers to issues of direct concern and interest to the Republic of Cyprus, including certain obligations that Turkey must comply with.

The Commission rightly emphasizes that “… accession negotiations will take place in the framework of an Intergovernmental Conference where decisions require unanimity and with full participation of all EU Members”. Consequently, the absence of recognition of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey will pose serious obstacles during accession negotiations.

Like the Commission, Cyprus expects that Turkey will promptly sign the adaptation protocol to the Ankara Agreement for extending the terms of the Customs Union to take account of the accession of the ten new Member States. Turkey has still to meet this obligation.

As the Report itself points out, Turkey should abolish all restrictive measures against vessels of Cypriot interest or other Community vessels that approach its ports. Restrictive measures that harm these interests, by stifling free trade, are contrary to the aim and the spirit of the 1963 Association Agreement and the Customs Union of the European Community with Turkey.

Similarly, the prohibition on Cyprus-registered aircraft from using internationally- approved air corridors over Turkey should be lifted. This would bring Turkey in line with its international and European obligations, including EU competition rules.

The need for cooperation with the EU and its member state, including in the context of the Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, also warrant that the Turkish Government cease to veto Cyprus’ accession to a number of Regional and International Organizations. A list of these Organizations has been officially communicated to the European Commission.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs shares the emphasis placed on the need for full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In this context, it will closely monitor the application of Turkey’s new Penal Code and in particular the application of article 305 which may seriously impede the exercise of freedom of expression of the people of Turkey, especially concerning Turkey’s policies on Cyprus.

Turkey constitutes a unique example of a country that aspires to join the EU, while maintaining an occupying military force in a member state. The EU should support the earliest demilitarisation of the island with the full withdrawal of the occupation troops.

As to the reference in the Recommendation that «Turkey agreed to the solution put forward in the peace plan of the UN Secretary General», it would have indeed been surprising had Turkey not done so, since the Plan satisfied essentially all the Turkish demands. The status quo in Cyprus is unacceptable. The EU must support new efforts, under the auspices of the UN Secretary General, to resolve the problem through an equitable, comprehensive, viable and mutually acceptable settlement, consistent with the fundamental values and principles of Europe. The constructive cooperation of Turkey to that effect, is necessary.

The Republic of Cyprus hopes that Turkey will urgently review its attitude and stance towards Cyprus by addressing the above mentioned issues as well as other relevant issues, including the following:

- the return of the town of Varosha to its lawful inhabitants
- the introduction of a moratorium on the influx from its territory into the occupied part of Cyprus of Turkish settlers and the facilitation of their repatriation.
- the introduction of a moratorium on all construction activities not having the consent of the lawful property owners in the areas of the Republic of Cyprus which are not under the effective control of the Government.
The need for Turkey to comply with the aforementioned obligations also stems from the general political criteria and responsibilities of all aspiring EU member states.

The Republic of Cyprus has stated on various occasions that it supports Turkey’s European aspirations provided that Turkey complies fully with the letter and spirit of the Copenhagen criteria. It sincerely hopes and expects that Turkey will meet its European obligations by taking the concrete steps that would facilitate a decision by the European Council next December regarding the commencement of its accession negotiations, reserving all the rights which the Republic of Cyprus has as a member of the European Union.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterates the hope that Turkey attitude will allow for the opening of a new chapter in the relations between Turkey and the EU 25 Member States, including Cyprus. It is our firm belief that the common interests of the Turkish and Cypriot people call for the peaceful interaction and cooperation of the two countries, based on the fundamental values and principles on which the EU is founded.

At this important turn in the history of Turkey, the Government and the people of the Republic of Cyprus wish to stand side by side with the Turkish people in the interest of regional stability and the progress and prosperity of both countries and peoples. It is up to Turkey to seize the opportunity and make it possible for the ushering of a new era in the history of our region, leaving behind the past, and building on a common European future.

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