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Cyprus government satisfied with EU FMs decisions
2006-12-12 08:37:41

Nicosia, Dec 12 -- The Cyprus government has expressed its satisfaction with the unanimous conclusions of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council on Turkey.

“We are not overjoyed with this outcome. But at the same time we do not underestimate its importance,” Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardes said.

The spokesman noted that the Foreign Ministers of Cyprus and Greece, acting in concert with some of their EU counterparts, worked very hard to eliminate the strong reaction of other partners and finally satisfied some of the main demands of the Greek Cypriot side.

He added that “the conclusions of the Council meet to a great extent the basic goals we had set.”

“It was not an easy outcome. Discussions lasted for hours and there was a lively debate. Some countries demanded persistently the freezing of only three chapters in Turkey's accession negotiations, they aimed to link the Cyprus question to Turkey’s accession course and to avoid fixing a date to assess Turkey’s behaviour,” he noted.

“The conclusions of the Council meet to a great extent the basic goals we had set. They freeze eight chapters of the accession negotiations of Turkey, disassociate the Cyprus question from Turkey’s accession course, provide for the reassessment of the progress towards the fulfillment of Ankara’s obligations towards the Republic of Cyprus and provide that no chapter closes until the Commission verifies the implementation of Turkey’s commitments, related to the Additional Protocol,” he noted.

Pashiardes also noted that the Cyprus government remains firm on its position that Turkey has to fully comply with the prerequisites to have a normal and unhindered course towards Europe.

Responding to questions, the spokesman said “consensus and compromise is the rule in the EU,” adding that the rule applied in this case as well.

“We are satisfied without of course saying that we are enthusiastic about this,” he noted.

Invited to comment on the fact that British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett referred while speaking before the Council to Cyprus' occupied areas as “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”, Pashiardes said he would like to believe that this was a serious slip of the tongue.

To another question, Pashiardes noted that the annual reports of the Commission to the Council form a concrete time frame in which Turkey is called to respond to its obligations.

“So an effective mechanism of evaluating and monitoring Turkey’s behaviour is set up and it will be used in order to exert pressure on Ankara to fulfill its obligations and commitments,” he added.

Pashiardes said some EU partners, which insisted that no date for the evaluation of Turkey’s accession course is included in the conclusions, reacted strongly.

He noted that the measures provided in the conclusions consist a form of sanctions and send the message to Turkey that its normal accession course is linked with its obligation to honour and implement the European rules and prerequisites.

''If Ankara does not wish to take this message into consideration and continues not to comply, it will be judged in the near future by the EU and additional sanctions are not something that can be ruled out,” he added.

Responding to another question Pashiardes said that no one can deprive the Republic of Cyprus of its right to block chapters of the accession negotiations, other than the eight decided to be frozen.

As regards the issue of direct trade of the Turkish Cypriots with the EU, Pashiardes said the relevant EU regulation does not refer to any ports or airports through which trade will be taking place.

He said the issue of direct trade is noted by the Council as a political agreement to be included into the Council’s conclusions in January.

Pashiardes said “our side does not object to discussions” on the direct trade regulation.

“We are not against commercial activities of Turkish Cypriots when they are conducted through the legitimate procedures” he concluded.

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