Cyprus warns EU over Turkey's negotiation framework
Brussels, Jul 18 - Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou has warned the British Presidency of the EU and other EU member states that Cyprus will not consent to a unanimous decision of the General Affairs Council on the framework of Turkey's accession negotiations unless Ankara signs the protocol extending its association agreement with the ten new EU member states.
Iacovou's intervention came after Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn presented the proposal for the negotiating framework of Turkey's accession talks to the 25 Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
The Presidency had earlier said that no discussion would take place today, with the exception of Iacovou presenting his position because, as Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said, Cyprus has a vested interest in the issue.
During a meeting earlier, Straw and Iacovou solely discussed issues pertaining to Turkey.
Iacovou asked Straw to inform the Council about Turkish press reports about an agreement between Ankara and London on the procedure that will be followed regarding the signing of the protocol.
Straw categorically denied that such an agreement exists, noting he met briefly his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul in Srebrenica a few days ago but did not discuss the protocol.
In his intervention, Iacovou supported the enlargement of the EU towards the Balkans as well as Turkey, noting that the latter must fulfill its obligations.
Referring to the signing of the protocol, the Cypriot Minister said it is a procedure that takes only 20 seconds to complete. "Turkey committed itself that it would sign the protocol," Iacovou said, adding that the preparation of the document took five months and the Luxembourg Presidency sent the relevant document to Ankara with an invitation to come forward to sign it.
So far, he added, Turkey not only did not come forward, it did not even say when it will sign the document, adding that there is a leakage of news on the part of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs that they have prepared a number of gimmicks to avoid signing the protocol.
Iacovou said the Cypriot government believes that these fall outside the framework of diplomatic practice, and called on the Presidency to invite Turkey to sign the document.
He also asked the British Presidency to fully inform Cyprus on its moves on the issue and expressed hope that this will take place.
Concluding, Iacovou made it clear that during the COREPER discussions and the informal Ministers of Foreign Affairs' Meeting on 1 and 2 September, Cyprus will not present its positions and naturally will not consent to a decision on the negotiating framework before Turkey signs the protocol.
He said that for Cyprus the protocol and the negotiating framework go together, adding that this was Nicosia's message to all.
In his closing remarks after Iacovou, the British Foreign Secretary said the Presidency would put pressure on Turkey to sign the protocol, adding that he hoped the document would take the form "we want." He also said that if anything arises, the Presidency would be guided by the Council's Law Service.
Presenting the negotiating framework, Rehn pointed out the need to sign the protocol extending Turkey's association agreement to the ten new EU member states, adding he hoped this would be done soon.
He also said that the framework included all the elements on Cyprus that were in the common statement of the EU-Turkey Association Council on 27 April 2005.