Cyprus President in Brussels for EU summit
Brussels, Dec 14 - Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos is taking part in the two-day European Council meeting which opened in Brussels today and is focusing on the future of Europe. He is accompanied by the island's Foreign Minister, Mr. Yiorgos Lillikas.
The 25 leaders are debating issues relating to enlargement, the ability of the Union to absorb new members, immigration and changes in the decision making process with regard to home affairs and justice.
At the General Assembly and External Relations Council on Monday, the EU Foreign Ministers agreed unanimously to freeze eight chapters in Turkey’s accession negotiations, due to Ankara’s refusal to implement its commitments and obligations to the EU.
Following the EU's decision, Cyprus Government Spokesman Mr. Christodoulos Pashiardis said:
"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.”
Meanwhile, also in Brussels today, French presidential candidate Nikolas Sarkozy said that Turkey must recognise all 25 members of the European Union and this, he pointed out, is a matter of principle.
He told journalists: "Turkey has to recognise all 25 EU member states and this is not just a precondition, but a matter of principle and absolute necessity".
Mr. Sarkozy also said he was pleased with the decision of the EU foreign ministers on Monday to freeze 8 of the 35 chapters in Turkey’s accession negotiations.
He stressed that if Turkey wants to join the EU, it has to understand that it is not the Union that has to adapt to others. "The EU has principles”, he concluded.
The conclusions of the General Affairs and External Relations Council were the following:
"The Council takes note of the Commission's report of 8 November 2006 and welcomes the findings and recommendations contained therein.
Council welcomes the continued progress made by Turkey in the reform process, but regrets that the pace of reforms has slowed down in 2006. It is essential that Turkey undertakes determined efforts to intensify the reform process and to implement it with determination, so as to ensure its irreversibility and sustainability. The substantial and technical preparation of the negotiations have progressed well. The Council recalls that, in line with the Negotiating Framework, the advancement of the accession negotiations continues to be guided by Turkey's progress in preparing for accession. In this context the Council notes that further significant efforts are required to strengthen freedom of expression, freedom of religion, women's rights, minority rights, trade union rights and civilian control of the military. In line with the Negotiating Framework, Turkey also needs to commit to good neighbourly relations and to the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the United Nations Charter, including, if necessary, jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
The Council recalls the declaration of the European Community and its Member States of 21 September 2005 and notes that Turkey has not fulfilled its obligation of full non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement.
The Council welcomes the Commission's recommendation of 29 November. In this context the Council agrees that the Member States within the Intergovernmental Conference will not decide on opening chapters covering policy areas relevant to Turkey's restrictions as regards the Republic of Cyprus until the Commission verifies that Turkey has fulfilled its commitments related to the Additional Protocol.
These chapters are: Chapter 1: free movement of goods, Chapter 3: right of establishment and freedom to provide service, Chapter 9: financial services, Chapter 11: agriculture and rural development, Chapter 13: fisheries, Chapter 14: transport policy, Chapter 29: customs union and Chapter 30: external relations.
The Council agrees that the Member States within the Intergovernmental Conference will not decide on provisionally closing chapters until the Commission verifies that Turkey has fulfilled its commitments related to the Additional Protocol.
The Council will follow up and review progress made on the issues covered by the declaration of 21 September 2005. The Council invites the Commission to report on this in its forthcoming annual reports, in particular in 2007, 2008 and 2009, as appropriate.
The Council emphasizes that the screening process will now continue and chapters for which technical preparations have been completed will be opened in accordance with established procedures, in line with the Negotiating Framework.
The Council looks forward to speedy progress on these issues.''