EU calls on Turkey to Contribute to Reunification of Cyprus
Nicosia, Nov 5 - The EU expects that Turkey will contribute to a favorable climate to achieve a comprehensive settlement on the reunification of Cyprus, Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has said, adding that the EU can accept any solution agreed to by the two communities, as long as a united Cyprus respects the Union's founding principles and is able to speak with one voice and carry the obligations of EU membership.
Referring to Turkey's progress towards EU accession, Mr. Rehn said “the year 2008 was marked by strong political tension in domestic politics,” adding that “the constitutional court cases highlight the need for urgent revision of the rules governing political parties and also for a wider constitutional reform.”
“I welcome the reform of article 301 on the freedom of expression and the adoption of the law on foundations, both of which need to be properly implemented,” he said.
Mr. Rehn called on Turkey “to re-energize its reform efforts to advance fundamental freedoms and the rule of law,” noting that ''the country has every chance to make 2009 an important year in its EU accession process, by accelerating the momentum of legal and democratic reforms."
“Last but not least, we also expect that Turkey will contribute to a favorable climate to achieve a comprehensive settlement on the reunification of Cyprus. The year 2009 should be decisive here. The EU can accept any solution agreed by the two communities, as long as a united Cyprus respects the Union's founding principles of liberty, democracy and the rule of law, and is able to speak with one voice and carry the obligations of EU membership,” Mr. Rehn pointed out.
He added that “this implies a bizonal bicommunal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant UN Security Council resolutions.”
,br> Replying to questions, Mr. Rehn said that "the speed of negotiations depends essentially on the speed of reforms and their implementation on the ground."
He noted that especially in the past two years, “Turkey has faced a political, a constitutional crisis, which has consumed a lot of energy and caused stagnation in the essential reforms that are needed to make progress in the EU accession negotiations.”
“We are following these political developments with concern and of course we would expect that political demonstrations and reactions to them are clearly peaceful and non violent,” Mr. Rehn said and expressed solidarity with the Turkish people and the victims of terrorism.
Mr. Rehn furthermore pointed out the need for the Turkish government “to intensify its work for the cultural and domestic rights of all Turkish citizens, as well as for the economic and social development of the southeast.”