EU Commissioner says Turkey must recognise Cyprus Republic
by Nicos Bellos
Brussels, Sep 13 (CNA) -- Turkey has to officially recognise the Republic of Cyprus and the soonest it does it the better, EU Enlargement Commissioner Oli Rehn has said.
Speaking today before the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee and referring to the protocol extending the customs union of Turkey with the EU to the ten new member states, Rehn described the issuing of a unilateral statement by Turkey on the issue of the recognition the Cyprus Republic as a sad event.
He said this development ''obliges us to respond and explain to Ankara its obligations.''
According to the Commissioner, the EU legal service has analysed the statement of Turkey and decided that Ankara cannot suspend the implementation of the customs union.
Rehn noted that the customs union has to be implemented with all member states, without limitations as regards ports and airports.
President of the Foreign Affairs Committee Elmar Brok called on the Commissioner to assure the European Parliament in writing, in view of the discussion at the plenary at the end of this month about the protocol, that the unilateral statement by Turkey does not consist part of the signing procedure and of the ratification of the protocol.
Replying to questions of members of the European Parliament, Rehn said Turkey signed the protocol, which means that it recognises all member states, while the accession negotiations will take place with all 25 member states.
He noted that Ankara is committed to implement the protocol and expressed the belief that it will do so.
Rehn assured that if that does not happen, the EU would activate the mechanisms at its disposal, such as the non-opening of the chapters related to the customs union.
The EU has safety valves and will use them if necessary, he noted.
As regards the Cyprus problem, he said that negotiations under UN auspices must resume.
He noted that the speed of Turkey's accession negotiations would depend on the rate of solving disputes between Turkey and Cyprus.
As regards the accession negotiations framework for Turkey, proposed by the Commission, he said that all concerns of the common opinion are analysed at the negotiating framework, adding that this is a document concerning the method and not the result of the negotiations.
He noted that 71 decisions would be needed until the end, 35 openings and closures of chapters and a final decision.
Rehn said that the procedure is open, there is an ''emergency brake'' and a transitional period, and described the negotiating framework as the strictest proposed ever by the Commission for a candidate country.