European Parliament Calls on Turkey to Facilitate Climate for Peace Talks by Withdrawing Occupation Troops
Photo by S. Solberg J
Nicosia, Mar 13 - The European Parliament adopted Friday resolutions on the three candidate countries for EU accession, namely, Croatia, Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and their progress in 2008.
The resolution on Turkey’s 2008 progress report was drawn up by EP Turkey Rapporteur Ria Oomen-Ruijten (EPP-ED, NL) and passed by 528 votes in favor to 52 against with 43 abstentions. MEPs note with concern the lack of progress in talks with the EU and the “continuous slowdown of the reform process” in Turkey for the third consecutive year. They also state that freedom of expression and freedom of the press are still not fully protected in Turkey.
Making specific reference to Cyprus, “the resolution stresses the need to reach ‘a comprehensive settlement’ of the Cyprus question based on UN Security Council resolutions. MEPs back the direct negotiations currently under way between leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities and urge Turkey to facilitate a suitable climate for negotiations by withdrawing Turkish forces” from the island.
Furthermore, MEPs condemn the fact that the EC-Turkey customs union and its additional protocol have not yet been implemented fully by the Turkish government. They also point out that the non-fulfillment of Turkey's commitments by December 2009 "will further seriously affect the process of negotiations."
The non-recognition of the Cyprus Republic, the resolution further stipulates, is blocking the beginning of accession talks on eight economic chapters. It is also noted that Turkey is refusing to allow access to its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels and aircrafts.
MEPs also call on Turkey to comply with its obligations under international law and the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights on the Fourth Interstate Application by Cyprus against Turkey regarding investigations into the fate of missing persons. EU Member States are asked to urge Turkey to take action on this humanitarian issue.
Cyprus Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou commented that “for the first time December 2009 becomes a clear timeframe for Turkey, and if by then Ankara does not meet its obligations as regards the Additional Protocol, this would seriously affect its EU accession course.” He further stressed that Turkey must comply with “international law, UN decisions, rulings of the European Court of Human Rights and investigations into the fate of the missing persons.”
The adoption of this specific resolution, Mr. Stephanou continued, was based on the positive climate that was created in the EU, due to the initiatives of the Greek Cypriot side, which led to the start of direct negotiations, and the hard efforts of the Government, the Diplomatic Service of the Republic, the Cypriot MEPs and the friendly Groups in the European Parliament.