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Statements by the Minister of Foreign Affairs regarding the Commissionís Progress Report on Turkey
2009-10-20 08:20:35

Nicosia, Oct 14 – The EU Commission Report, entitled “Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2009-2010,” sets out the progress made and the key challenges faced by candidate countries. Turkey, it says, has expressed support for the ongoing negotiations under UN auspices between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

It is noted however that Turkey has not made any progress towards normalization of bilateral relations with the Republic of Cyprus and moreover that Turkey has not fully implemented the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement and has not removed all obstacles to the free movement of goods, including restrictions on direct transport links with Cyprus.

It is also indicated that the EU will continue to follow up and review progress made on issues covered by the Declaration of 21 September 2005, in accordance with the Council Conclusions of 11 December 2006.

When asked by journalists to comment on the annual Progress Report on Turkey, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Markos Kyprianou pointed out that the final document is improved compared to the draft documents publicized earlier and added that the Progress Report “outlines Turkey's obligations in a clear way, as well as the fact that it has not fulfilled these obligations.”

He added that “there are references in the documents with which we do not agree, such as the reference that Turkey supports the ongoing negotiations for a Cyprus settlement.” Minister Kyprianou described this reference as “superficial,” because “they did not study in-depth the positions of the Turkish side, which may be verbally supporting the process, but in essence does not support the objective for a federal solution; instead it refers to a two-state solution and a confederation of two states.”

“We are disappointed since, given the findings of the Commission, one would expect that it would proceed with recommendations for measures to be taken in December. We believe that this should have come as a natural outcome, following the positions described in the Commission’s Report,” the Foreign Minister said.

Minister Kyprianou stressed that the Commission Report is a tool and a presentation of the facts, while the final decision regarding the assessment of Turkey's accession negotiations will be taken by the member states, at the European Council in December. “There we will present our positions. We believe that we can achieve a common position. That will be our goal, to have a common position on the issue,” he added.

Replying to a question, Minister Kyprianou said that although the reference that Turkey supports the negotiation process for the solution of the Cyprus problem is not true, one of the positive elements of the Report is the fact that it refers to Turkey's obligation to contribute in concrete terms to a solution of the Cyprus problem, instead of a mere obligation to help create a good climate at the talks.

Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou also commented on the report, stressing the importance of the EU’s commitment to continue to follow up and review Turkey’s progress in fulfilling its obligations.

He also added that the National Council of Cyprus, the top advisory body to the President regarding the Cyprus issue, has been clear on this issue, saying “that we will act until December as we have acted so far, to facilitate the implementation of the strategic goal which is the settlement of the Cyprus question by forcing Turkey to change its attitude on the Cyprus issue and work towards a solution that will serve the well perceived interests of our people.”

“If Turkey does not act in this way we have said that it will not continue its accession course unhindered,” Spokesman Stephanou concluded.

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