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Rehn: Turkey's commitments on Cyprus not negotiable
2005-11-09 11:34:21

Nicosia, Nov 9 (CNA) -- European Union Enlargement Commissioner Oli Rehn stressed on Wednesday that the Union expects Turkey to meet its commitment to fully implement the additional protocol on the Ankara Agreement (Customs Union) to the ten new member-states including Cyprus, which also implies the opening of Turkish ports to Cypriot vessels.

''That is not under negotiation, that is a commitment and we expect that Turkey will stick to that commitment,'' Rehn underlined, adding that this issue is not linked with the two EU regulations on economic aid and direct trade with the Turkish Cypriots.

He also said that the Commission continues to work on the adoption of two regulations for the Turkish Cypriot community and ''thus also pave the way for the resumption of the talks on a comprehensive settlement on the island.''

''We are working on this issue with the UK presidency and I expect we can see results also shortly,'' he added.

Rehn presented today the Commissionís overall enlargement policy for the candidate countries Croatia and Turkey, and the potential candidate countries in the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro and Kosovo, describing Turkey's progress report as ''objective and balanced.''

On Turkey's reform process, Rehn said that the Commission's progress report ''states that Turkey continues to sufficiently fulfill the political criteria of Copenhagen,'' adding however that ''the pace of change has slowed in 2005 and even though there is progress in implementation it still remains uneven.''

''Therefore significant further efforts are needed especially as regards freedom of expression, womenís rights, religious freedoms, trade unions and the rights of non-Moslems religious communities,'' Rehn added.

Replying to a question, Rehn said that ''there are still major problems to be tackled,'' and he focused mainly on the need for Turkey to enhance the rule of law and human rights.

Furthermore, Rehn noted that this phase of enlargement takes into account the EUís absorption capacity, noting that ''the absorption capacity is reinforced in the Commission documents.''

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