EU agrees on counterstatement to Turkey's declaration
by Nicos Bellos
Brussels, Sep 20 (CNA) - An agreement was reached in Brussels tonight, after deliberations between the Permanent Representatives of the United Kingdom and Cyprus, on the content of the EU counterstatement to the unilateral declaration of Turkey that it does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus.
The British presidency will brief tomorrow's COREPER on the agreement and will then issue the counterstatement on behalf of the EU.
Apart from the content of the counterstatement, the British presidency accepted and will include two amendments in Turkey's negotiating framework, namely that it will call on Ankara to stop obstructing Cyprus' membership of international organisations and will remind Turkey that its EU accession negotiations are an intergovernmental process.
The Cypriot amendments are now ''locked'' in the text and constitute part of the negotiating framework.
The counterstatement says Turkey's declaration has no legal effect on its obligations, calls on Ankara to fully implement the protocol, creates a mechanism to monitor its implementation in 2006, notes that Turkey will have consequences if it does not fully implement it, makes clear that the EU recognises only the Republic of Cyprus, and points out the importance of Turkey recognising the Republic of Cyprus and the necessity to normalise Turkey's relations with all EU member states the soonest possible.
In the counterstatement, ''the European Community and its member states acknowledge the signature by Turkey of the Additional Protocol to the Agreement establishing an Association between the European Community and its Member States on the one part and Turkey on the other, in accordance with the conclusions of the European Council of December 2004'' but ''regret that Turkey felt it necessary to make a declaration regarding the Republic of Cyprus at the time of signature.''
They also ''make clear that this declaration is unilateral, does not form part of the Protocol and has no legal effect on Turkey's obligations.''
Furthermore, they ''expect full, non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol, and the removal of all obstacles to the free movement of goods, including restrictions on means of transport.''
''Turkey must apply the Protocol fully to all EU member states. The EU will monitor this closely and evaluate full implementation in 2006. The European Community and its member states stress that the opening of negotiations on the relevant chapters depends on Turkey's implementation of its contractual obligations to all member states. Failure to implement its obligations in full will affect the overall progress in the negotiations,'' they note.
The EU and its member states ''recall that the Republic of Cyprus became a member state of the EU on 1st May 2004'' and ''underline that they recognise the Republic of Cyprus, only, as a subject of international law.''
They add that ''recognition of all member states is a necessary component of the accession process'' and that ''accordingly, the EU underlines the importance it attaches to the normalisation of relations between Turkey and all EU member states, as soon as possible.''
Furthermore, they point out that ''the Council will ensure a follow-up on the progress made on all these issues in 2006.''
''In the context of this declaration, the European Community and its member states agree on the importance of supporting the efforts of the UN Secretary General to bring about a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, in line with relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the principles on which the EU is founded, and that a just and lasting settlement will contribute to peace, stability and harmonious relations in the region,'' they conclude in their counterstatement.
In a written statement, Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman George Koumoutsakos says the counterstatement was ''a text of special importance, which includes all the declared pursuits of Greece and Cyprus.''
He adds that ''this text makes clear and imperative the obligation of Turkey to fully implement the protocol for the customs union concerning the Republic of Cyprus as an EU member state'' and constitutes a kind of ''birth of 'de facto' recognition of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey, and at the same time sets sound foundations for its 'de jure' recognition.''
''These are developments of evident gravity that were inconceivable a few years ago,'' he notes, adding that they ''place the Cyprus problem in a new, more favourable context.''