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EU Commission to work for protocol implementation
2005-03-30 12:40:29

Nicosia, Mar 30 (CNA) -- A protocol to Turkey's customs union agreement will be implemented once all the necessary procedures on the part of the European Union have been finalised, head of the EU Commission Representation office here Adriaan van der Meer has indicated, adding that the Commission wants this to proceed as fast as possible.

In statements to the press, he also said that the Commission's proposed text on the protocol could be amended by EU foreign ministers when they discuss the document and, if this were to happen, any new text will have to go back to Ankara for consideration.

Van der Meer described ''a violation of Turkey's 1995 customs union agreement'' Ankara's ban on vessels and aircraft, flagged or owned by Cyprus, to its territory.

''Implementation of the protocol depends on the timing, we would like the procedure to proceed as fast as possible,'' he said, adding that the Commission will do its best to get the document outside the Commission, which, as he noted, needs to be translated into 20 languages.

This, he stressed, is ''a very important exercise for us, there is a lot at stake and we will do everything to be as fast as possible.''

He explained that now the Commission services can proceed with the preparation of a formal proposal to the Council of Ministers in view of the signature of this protocol.

Van der Meer said that Turkey marked by a letter its agreement on the draft text of the protocol, prepared by the Commission services, a move he said means that ''the protocol has been initialed by Turkey''.

''The first step of this procedure has been achieved - the initialing. Now the Commission has to prepare the legal texts to allow the signature, and then the matter has to be further discussed with the Council of Ministers of the 25 member states and the European Parliament for an opinion,'' he noted.

When this procedure is finalised, then we can move ahead with the signature, he added.

The Commission, he said, believes that ''this is a good sign as regards the opening of accession negotiations with Turkey before 3 October and it shows that Turkey sticks to its commitment taken in December.''

He pointed out that the signature of the protocol would constitute ''a confidence building measure towards the normalisation of relations between Cyprus and Turkey.''

The protocol would extend the customs union agreement between Turkey and the EU to all ten new members, including the Republic of Cyprus, which Ankara does not recognise.

On a possible timetable for the work that the Commission has to complete, he said this is an internal timetable, which is not in the public domain, pointing out that ''we have to be prudent because then you raise expectations.''

He explained that the Commission has in the past worked on similar adaptations of agreements with third parties.

Responding to questions, he said if the proposed agreed text of the protocol is amended by the Council of Ministers, the new version of the document will have to be sent to Ankara for consultation.

''The Commission would like the current proposal to be adopted unchanged,'' he said.

Responding to questions about Turkey's ban of Cyprus-flagged ships and Cypriot aircraft, he said the initialing of the protocol by Ankara and the ban should be ''dissociated.''

He said that the Commission had often pointed out to Turkey the need to lift this ban, an issue he described ''long-pending.''

''Turkey's stance is a violation of the customs union decision of 1995,'' he added.

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