Eurlings calls on Turkey to decide whether it is considering EU accession
Strasbourg, Sep 27 -- It is high time for Ankara to reply to the
crucial question whether it is seriously contemplating or not its accession
to the European Union, Dutch rapporteur Camiel Eurlings told CNA here
Mr. Eurlings? report on Turkey's progress in its accession negotiations was approved by the European Parliament on Wednesday with 420 votes in favor, 71 against and 125 abstentions.
In his statements, Mr. Eurlings said that his report mentions two specific deadlines which Turkey must respect.
These deadlines, he explained, concern Cyprus and more specifically the full implementation of the additional Protocol by the end of 2006 and the second involves political reforms, such as freedom of expression and religious freedom, which it should promote by the end of 2007.
The message is clear, said Mr. Eurlings, ?no country can ever accede to the EU if it does not respect the freedom of expression and the religious convictions of its citizens?.
Furthermore, he said, no country can continue to negotiate with the EU if, beforehand, it has not improved its relations with its neighbors.
?Turkey should do this and I mean its relations with Cyprus. It must respect its commitments and proceed with the implementation of the Ankara Agreement?, Mr. Eurlings told CNA.
Turkey, an EU candidate country, refuses to implement a Protocol extending the Ankara Agreement (Customs Union) to the ten new EU member states, which among others provides for the opening of Turkish ports and airports to Cypriot ships and airplanes.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.