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Cyprus FM: No more EU chapters for Turkey before progress report
2006-09-14 11:22:01

Larnaca, Sep 14 - Cyprus Minister of Foreign Affairs Giorgos Lillikas has stressed that the Republic of Cyprus' position on the opening of chapters in the framework of Turkey's EU accession course is ''steadfast and irreversible,'' adding that until discussions on Ankara's assessment were completed, it would be counterproductive to discuss the opening or closing of chapters.

He also said that during the current period and until Turkey's progress report was discussed, the European Commission should try to convince Ankara to implement the acquis communautaire and meet its obligations towards the EU and Cyprus, and not make efforts to facilitate Turkey's accession course, minimising the stance of the Turkish government.

Speaking at Larnaca airport on Wednesday before departing for Brussels to participate in the EU General Affairs Council tomorrow, Mr. Lillikas said that he will be meeting with Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn to discuss Turkey's accession course and its evaluation by the Commission, as well as issues concerning the implementation of the financial regulation for the Turkish Cypriots.

Commenting on reports that the Commission intended to open the chapter on education for Turkey, Lillikas said ''the chapter for education and culture has already been submitted to the working group,'' adding that ''the Cypriot government objected, as did other countries, resulting in chapter 26 not being promoted.''

Asked if the specific chapter would open, Mr. Lillikas said it would not, adding that ''our position is steadfast and irreversible, we believe that until the discussion on Turkey's assessment is concluded, it would be counterproductive to discuss the opening or closing of chapters.''

Mr. Lillikas also said it would be preferable to conclude discussions on Turkey's assessment and then ''collectively the EU and the 25 partners to decide on this country's accession course and then place any chapters concerning Turkey's accession course back on the table.''

The Minister noted that ''we cannot behave as if nothing is happening and our opinion, which is shared by many countries, is that this period should be used on behalf of the Commission to convince Turkey to implement the acquis communautaire and meet its obligations towards the EU and the Republic of Cyprus and not be spent on facilitating Turkey's accession course, writing off the stance of the Turkish government.''

Turkey has so far refused to open up its ports and airport to Cypriot vessels and aircraft, dismissing repeated calls from Brussels to comply with its EU commitments as a candidate country. Ankara, whose troops occupy Cyprus' northern part, does not recognise the government of the Republic of Cyprus.

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