Turkey told to cooperate in EU-NATO relations
By Myria Andoniadou
BRITISH Prime Minister Tony Blair has asked Ankara to show more flexibility and not to raise obstacles in EU-NATO relations because Cyprus and Malta are members of the union but not the alliance, according to Turkish sources.
British sources avoided confirming the issue was raised by Blair in his meeting with Prime Minister Erdogan in Brussels yesterday, but neither did they dismiss the information.
According to sources, the issue was raised in the general context of EU-NATO cooperation and Turkey’s position. Ankara is expected to show more goodwill and flexibility because by blocking the participation of two EU member states it is not facilitating cooperation. It also hinders the growth of transatlantic cooperation.
Replying to questions in Brussels yesterday, President Papadopoulos said he did not see why such an issue would be raised today.
Taking advantage of the fact that Cyprus and Malta are not NATO members and are excluded from various cooperation agreements, such as the Partnership for Peace (PFP), Ankara often raises obstacles. To the point, sources said, that often meetings can’t take place.
The whole problem comes up particularly in relation to Cyprus and because of Ankara’s insistence on not recognising the Republic.
NATO sources told the Mail there is “an issue” between NATO and the EU because Cyprus and Malta don’t participate, especially in the PFP. He said this makes cooperation difficult, but insisted it is more of a technical problem.
For the past couple of months Brussels circles have been saying that the NATO Secretary General is not happy with the situation and is expecting a move from Nicosia for some kind of participation in order to start “working” on Turkey.
President Papadopoulos appeared to dispute the issue came up at the Blair Erdogan meeting and said he does not see why it could be raised. However, he recalled Turkey continues to place obstacles in Cyprus’ participation in various organisations, despite its obligations stemming from the December Council’s decision.
At their meeting in December, the EU heads decided Turkey could start accession negotiations on October 3 in which all 25 member states will be participating.
Asked if Cyprus wants to participate in NATO and the PFP, President Papadopoulos pointed out that both political parties and citizens have expressed objections. He clarified that if the issue comes up the government will take the decision in agreement with the parties.