Commission officials call on Turkey to open its ports and airport to Cyprus
Nicosia, Oct 3 - The EU called on Turkey on Tuesday to remove all
obstacles to free movement of goods and restrictions in communications with
the Republic of Cyprus and to open its ports and airports to Cypriot ships
Mr. Rehn, in a visit to Ankara to mark the first anniversary of the start of Turkey-EU entry talks, said that since the signing of the additional protocol expanding Turkey's Customs Union to the ten EU member states on July 2005, Turkey has not taken steps towards its implementation.
''(Turkey) has not removed the obstacles on free movement of goods, including the limitations on communications with Cyprus,'' Mr. Rehn told a press conference, adding that this constitutes a legal and institutional obligation for Turkey.
The EU Commissioner also said the reforms pace has slowed down during the last year and urged the Turkish government to proceed with more reforms and especially to reform article 301 of the penal code.
''Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of our common democratic values. I cannot even imagine a member of the EU that will not respect such a fundamental European principle,'' Mr. Rehn said.
From Brussels, Enlargement General Director Michael Lee called on Turkey to open its ports to all EU member states, including Cyprus.
Speaking during a gathering organised by the European Policy Centre and the Turkish Industrialists? Union, Lee recalled that the EU, through its counter-declaration on October 3 2005, demanded from Turkey to remove the obstacles on free movement of goods and open its ports to all member-states, including Cyprus.
He also expressed hope that progress will be made on this issue until November 8, when the EU Commission will issue its progress report on Turkey - EU accession negotiations.
Although Turkey signed in July 2005 the protocol extending its customs union to all ten EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus, it still refuses to ratify it and open its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels and aircraft, claiming that it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
On September 21, 2005 the EU issued a counter - declaration on Turkey?s unilateral declaration that it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, urging Turkey to implement the customs union protocol and normalize its relations with Cyprus.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island?s northern third.