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Cypriot President says Turkey delaying to sign protocol
2005-03-23 16:29:54

Larnaca, Mar 23 (CNA) - Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said here this evening that there is no doubt Turkey is using delaying tactics and might pursue the non-implementation of the protocol to its customs union agreement with the European Union, extending the accord to all ten new members, including Cyprus.

Speaking on his return from Brussels where he participated in the European Council, President Papadopoulos said however that there are many measures that can be taken to force Turkey to comply and to fulfill its obligations towards the EU and Cyprus.

Asked what his impressions were from Brussels on Turkey's intentions to sign the protocol by October 3, when its accession negotiations are due to begin, President Papadopoulos said the issue was not discussed at the Council.

Noting that the Stability and Growth Pact and the review of the Lisbon Strategy were the main issues on the agenda and that the members signed relevant documents on these, he said neither the Cyprus problem was raised nor Turkey's obligations were examined.

Invited to clarify the issue of the signing and implementation of the protocol, the Cypriot President said it was clear. ''The signing of the protocol is a first important step towards recognition. The EU demands the signing of the protocol, expanding the Ankara Agreement, to start accession negotiations with Turkey. It is a precondition. If it does not sign, negotiations will not start,'' he pointed out.

He said ''we set our condition when we accepted granting Turkey a date to commence accession negotiations, that we expect the protocol to be signed and to be implemented.''

''It is Turkey's obligation to implement several of the protocol's provisions, such as the docking of Cypriot ships in Turkish ports, the use of the airspace, commerce, exchange and movement of goods, which are obligations deriving from a number of international conventions and the convention on trade that Turkey undertakes to maintain,'' he added.

Asked if there is a possibility that Turkey might sign the protocol and avoid implementing it for a specific period of time, the President replied, ''I believe it is pursuing this.''

''There is no doubt that Turkey is using delaying tactics. It might pursue this time option. There are other measures though that can be taken to force Turkey to comply, to satisfy its obligations towards the EU and Cyprus,'' he concluded.

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