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MEP's: Turkey must recognize Cyprus and open borders to its vessels
2006-09-05 15:31:10

Nicosia, Sep 5 -- The European Parliament?s Foreign Affairs Committee urged Turkey to recognize the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state since May 1st 2004, and open its borders to Cypriot vessels and airplanes.

In a report adopted on Monday, the Committee urges Turkey ''to take concrete steps for the normalization of bilateral relations with Cyprus as soon as possible'' and refers to the EU Council declaration of 21 September 2005, which said that continuing negotiations would depend on Turkey opening its borders to Cypriot vessels and airplanes and that the recognition of Cyprus is a necessary component of the negotiating process.

Regarding Cyprus itself, MEPs welcomed the meeting between the leader of the Greek Cypriot community Tassos Papadopoulos and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat, that led to the agreement of 8 July, 2006.

The Foreign Affairs Committee also called on Turkey to recognize the Armenian genocide as a precondition for its EU accession and although welcoming the start of the accession negotiations with Turkey, it expressed regret that the reform process in Turkey has slowed down.

The report, prepared by Camiel Eurlings (EPP-ED, NL) and adopted by 53 votes in favour to six against with eight abstentions, notes ''persistent shortcomings'' in areas such as freedom of expression, religious and minority rights, the role of the military, policing, women's rights, trade union rights and cultural rights. It urges Turkey to ''reinvigorate'' the reform process.

MEPs repeated that negotiations do no lead automatically to accession and said that whether or not negotiations are successfully concluded, Turkey must remain ''fully anchored in European structures.''

It also called for a lowering of the threshold of ten percent of the votes below which political parties cannot enter the Turkish parliament.

The text will be debated by the whole Parliament during the EP plenary session of 25 - 28 September.

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