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Austrian EU Presidency calls on Turkey to respect customs union agreement with Cyprus
2006-01-04 12:27:13

Nicosia, Jan 4 -- ''Pacts must be respected”, the Austrian EU Presidency has said, when asked about Turkey’s refusal to extend its customs union agreement to Cyprus, an EU member since 2004, noting that any breach of what was agreed would have unfavorable consequences for Turkey’s EU accession course.

On the occasion of the assumption of the six-month EU rotating presidency by Austria, the country’s Ambassador in Nicosia, Ms. Eva Hager, also underlined that Turkey, in the short term, has to normalize relations with Cyprus, align its policy with EU policies regarding the accession of EU countries to international organizations and support efforts that would lead to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

The ambassador also said: “Turkey entered into a process of negotiations with the EU and by doing so it has undertaken commitments which it has to fulfil. One of the very clear commitments is the implementation of the Ankara Protocol (Customs Union extension). This must be seen simply and plainly under the principle pacta sunt servanda, pacts must be respected, if you sign a contract, you have to implement it. This is a condition sine qua non."

She then noted that the short term obligations of Turkey as expressed in EU documents (EU declaration of 21st of September 2005, EU – Turkey Negotiating Framework and Revised EU – Turkey Partnership) will be “watched and reviewed, and there will be a progress report on all these short term priorities later this year by the Commission.”

“In the light of this progress report, member countries will evaluate where we stand and what the dynamic of this process is and this will have positive of negative effects on the negotiations with Turkey”, she also said.

Ms. Hager referred to the EU counter declaration on Turkey’s unilateral declaration that it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, saying that the document clearly indicates that “lack of progress regarding Turkey’s obligations will influence the question of negotiations with regard to individual chapters or even with regard to the negotiation process as a whole”.

Regarding Turkey’s accession negotiations, the Ambassador expressed the opinion that Turkey could start substantive negotiations with the EU during the Austrian presidency, since the screening process will be over in a few weeks.

The first EU – Turkey negotiating chapters would probably concern “science and research” and “culture and education”.

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