Belgian Senate Committee adopts draft text on Turkey's EU bid
by Nicos Bellos
Brussels, Dec 8 (CNA) - The Belgian Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence adopted a draft recommendation yesterday on Turkey's EU accession course, with which Ankara is called upon to recognise the Republic of Cyprus.
The Committee's draft recommendation will be submitted to the Senate plenary to be adopted and will then be sent to the Belgian government, in view of the December 17 European Council. The document is not of a binding nature but a contribution of the Senate to the broader discussion on Turkey's EU bid.
In his introductory speech, President of the Committee Francois Roelants du Vivier pointed out the importance of the draft recommendation's provision that Turkey must recognise the Republic of Cyprus and withdraw its troops from the island, in compliance with UN resolutions.
The draft recommendation expresses sorrow over the failure of the April 24, 2004 referendum in Cyprus, on a UN plan for a settlement of the political problem, and calls on the Turkish side to maintain its constructive stance in order to achieve a just, viable and functional solution, in accordance with UN resolutions and an improved version of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan.
It also calls on Turkey to recognise the Republic of Cyprus, which is an EU member, and withdraw its troops from the northern third of the island, in compliance with UN resolutions.
The draft recommendation also includes a provision by which the Belgian government is requested to work towards a Cyprus settlement, based on the Annan plan and UN resolutions, which would entail the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Efforts to reach a settlement culminated with an April 24 referendum on the Annan plan, which the Greek Cypriot community rejected and the Turkish Cypriot community accepted. A few days later, (May 1) the Republic of Cyprus officially became a full member of the EU.