Members of the European Parliament call on Turkey to recognize Cyprus
by Constantina Demetrouli
Strasbourg, Dec 14 (CNA) – Dutch Member of the European Parliament Camiel Eurlings has called for Cyprus’ recognition by Turkey as well as the withdrawal of the Turkish troops from the island and a resumption of the negotiations “for a permanent and just settlement” of the Cyprus problem.
Speaking during the debate of his report on Turkey’s progress to the EU, Eurlings, who is also the Rapporteur for Turkey’s accession course at the European Parliament, called for more and substantial reforms on the part of Turkey to fulfil the Copenhagen criteria.
In his speech, Eurlings said that Turkey has carried out many reforms in the last years but more are needed as well as enhanced implementation of the ones decided.
Eurlings posed three conditions to begin accession negotiations without any additional postponements: implementation of the changes agreed to in Turkey, to set up a Watchdog Committee and to make it clear that all reforms adopted should be put in practice in the first phase of the accession negotiations.
Meanwhile, Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn called for a resumption of the dialogue for a Cyprus settlement during the debate at the European Parliament on the Eurlings report.
He agreed to a large degree on the report and said “the negotiations should be repeated to find a (Cyprus) settlement. It is clear that the accession negotiations will be helped within the framework of the negotiations, which will include the 25 member states and Turkey. We are asking Turkey to sign the protocol, which will expand the association Agreement to all member states”, he added.
European People's Party-European Democrats Group leader Hans-Gert Poettering said that a possible expansion of the EU to include Turkey would mean “the death of the EU, its destruction. Negotiations will begin with a country where mass torture takes place”.
Leader of the Socialist Group Martin Schulz said his group supports Turkey’s European course, noting that with the adoption of the European Constitution and the Human Rights Charter, Turkey will rebuff the argument that Islam’s principles are contrary to those of Europe. He also said that Erdogan’s reforms are substantial and a European Turkey will help develop its dynamic to build peace in a region, which requires it greatly.
The remaining political groups spoke in favour of Eurlings' report.
Cypriot MEPs noted that Turkey must respect Cyprus as an EU member state and put an end to its intransigent position.
Kyriacos Triantafyllides of AKEL said “we respect Turkey’s effort to conform with the political criteria but it must respect Cyprus as well as the remaining 24 member states”.
Democratic Rally MEP Ioannis Kasoulides said that Turkey’s substantial obligations “should not be minimized or overlooked”. He called for the recognition of the Armenian genocide, Turkey’s gradual withdrawal of its troops from the occupied north and recognition of Cyprus.
Panagiotis Demetriou, also of DISY, stressed that Turkey does not fulfil the Copenhagen criteria, has serious deficiencies referring to human rights, violates the Helsinki decisions, harasses Greece and does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus”, noting the last one is an issue of respect of the EU when Turkey does not recognise a member state.
Democratic Party MEP Marios Matsakis talked about the cost of Turkey’s accession, noting it would require 400 billion euro, meaning it would cost each EU citizen 100 euro per head.
Independent candidate Yiannakis Matsis said the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus is a precondition for Turkey’s EU course.
He said that there must be a choice for a special relation with Turkey, that the settlers and occupation troops be removed and the troops being replaced with an EU force. He also called for recognition of the Republic of Cyprus as a precondition for a smooth course and said a European solution would make Cyprus an example of co-existence of Christians and Muslims.
Greek MEP of the New Democracy Ioannis Varvitsiotis said the report has grate political importance and is completely balanced.
However, he said Turkey not only has rights but also obligations and it must realise that its European prospects depends on its stance on internal and external issues.
PASOK MEP Panagiotis Beglitis emphasized the need to make it clear to Turkey that the start of accession negotiations should not be considered a blank cheque. ''It must include a European agenda and a road map with a specific timetable for implementing its obligations”, he added.