Belgian FM: Cyprus settlement a precondition for Turkey's EU accession
Nicosia, Jan 9 -- The solution of the Cyprus problem is a precondition for Turkey’s European Union membership, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht said this week.
In statements after holding consultations with his Cypriot counterpart George Iacovou, Mr. De Gucht, who had paid an official visit to Cyprus, underlined that Turkey has to fulfill all its EU obligations, and made a special reference to the implementation of the Ankara Protocol on the extension of Turkey’s Customs Union agreement with all new EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus.
“Solving this lasting problem is a precondition for Turkish EU membership. We have been of the opinion that the solution of the Cyprus problem should not necessarily be a precondition for opening accession negotiations, which we decided in October in Luxembourg but it certainly is a precondition for membership. We hope that the problem is solved as soon as possible. It is important for the EU, for the regional stability and for peace in the broader European region,” the Belgian Minister said.
He added that “it is obvious that Turkey should fulfill the obligations it undertook in the October Agreement'' regarding the EU – Turkey negotiating framework.
“About the Ankara Protocol (for the extension of Turkey’s Customs Union with all new member states) it is clear for us that there should be an early ratification (by the Turkish Parliament) of the Protocol and that it should work in practice. Not only legally but also in practice”, he added.
Referring to the EU regulations for the Turkish Cypriots, the Belgian Minister expressed hope that a solution will be found, and suggested first the adoption of the financial aid regulation for the Turkish Cypriots and then a discussion on the second regulation regarding direct trade of Turkish Cypriots with the EU countries.
The Cyprus Foreign Minister said that his counterpart has a deep knowledge of European issues and is interested in the Cyprus problem.
"We discussed European issues, such as the ratification of the European Constitutional Treaty, the Middle East problem and of course the Cyprus problem,” Mr. Iacovou also said.
The Cypriot and Belgian Ministers also discussed ways of cooperation in matters concerning training of Palestinians in various areas, as well as cooperation in the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).