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European Parliament rapporteur calls on Turkey to normalize relations with Cyprus
2006-09-27 12:10:35

Nicosia, Sep 26 -- The European Parliament has adopted a report warning that the pace of reform in Turkey has slowed, jeopardising Ankara's EU membership bid. But MEPs dropped a clause demanding that Turkey recognise as "genocide" the mass killings of Armenians in 1915.

The MEPs also called on Turkey to recognise the Republic of Cyprus and lift its embargo on Cypriot ships and planes, saying continued failure to do so "will have serious implications for the [EU] negotiation process and could even bring it to a halt".

The report submitted by rapporteur Camiel Eurlings was adopted by 429 votes in favour to 71 against, with 125 abstentions.

The report makes extensive reference to problems regarding the freedom of expression, religious and minority rights, the relations between the political and military sector, women's rights, trade union rights, cultural rights and the proper implementation of court rulings by state services, inter alia, and Turkey is called upon to proceed with its reforms.

The reports also say the European Parliament ''expresses its disappointment over the fact that, in spite of its contractual obligations, Turkey continues to maintain restrictions against vessels flying the Cypriot flag and vessels approaching from harbors in the Republic of Cyprus, denying them access to Turkish ports, and against Cypriot aircraft, denying them flying rights over Turkey and landing rights at Turkish airports.''

It then reminds Turkey that ''this practice constitutes a breach by Turkey of the Association Agreement, the related Customs Union and the Additional Protocol, as the restrictions infringe the principle of the free movement of goods.''

The European Parliament ''seeks to work with the Turkish authorities to enable them to comply in full with their obligations in this respect without seeking to exacerbate domestic political tensions contrary to the interest of long-term reconciliation for Cyprus'' and furthermore ''regrets that Turkey maintains its veto against the participation of the Republic of Cyprus in international organizations and in multilateral agreements.''

Furthermore, it ''calls on the Turkish authorities to maintain a constructive attitude in finding a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question within the UN framework, acceptable to both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, leading to an equitable solution based upon the principles on which the EU is founded, as well as on the acquis, and, pursuant to the relevant UN resolutions, to effect an early withdrawal of their forces in accordance with a specific timetable.''

The European Parliament also ''welcomes the meeting between Mr. Papadopoulos and Mr. Talat on 3 July, which led to the agreement of 8 July, and encourages further contacts in order to pursue dialogue which should lead to a comprehensive settlement.''

It ''calls on both parties to adopt a constructive attitude in finding a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question within the UN framework and based upon the principles on which the EU is founded, and points out that the withdrawal of Turkish soldiers could facilitate the resumption of substantive negotiations and, pursuant to the relevant UN resolutions, calls on the Turkish government to effect an early withdrawal of Turkish forces in accordance with a specific timetable.''

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