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EU’s blunt message to Turkey: Normalise!

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EU’s blunt message to Turkey: Normalise!

Postby Agios Amvrosios » Fri Apr 22, 2005 4:09 am

THE European Union yesterday urged Ankara to normalise relations with the Republic of Cyprus as one of a string of measures to ease its course towards EU membership.

The view was encoded in an EU document delighted Nicosia which quickly hailed the unanimous position.

"We have achieved a very satisfactory document," Foreign Minister George Iacovou told reporters in Nicosia on news that the committee of permanent representatives of the 25 EU member states (Coreper) had forged a common position for Tuesday’s EU-Turkey Association Council.

The position paper is not binding on Ankara, but is viewed as a checklist of what the EU wants to see from Turkey as it moves towards entry.

It will now be adopted by EU foreign ministers on Monday, and be presented to the Association Council the following day.

The Coreper document was agreed after protracted negotiations and is seen by Nicosia as an improvement on the draft prepared by the Luxembourg EU presidency.

The Luxembourg draft had hung in the balance because of reported objections by London and Rome to references on Cyprus they saw as too demanding on Ankara.

Joint position

The document was particularly welcome, as it constitutes the joint position of the EU25, the foreign minister told reporters.

The reference to a protocol extending Ankara’s customs union with all ten EU members was "very good", as it refers to its signature, ratification, and speedy implementation, he said.

Also important is the fact that the EU sees the protocol as a first step towards the normalisation of relations with all EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus.

Moreover, it is the first time that an EU document refers to the need "for the normalisation of bilateral relations" of Turkey with all EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus.

The document also stresses the need for Ankara to fully and speedily implement all the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.

Ankara is asked to change its policy of blocking Cyprus’s participation in international organisations to which Turkey is a member.

Special reference is made to the restrictions Turkey imposes on trade and transport with a call to Turkey to end its embargo on ships flying the Cyprus or that dock at local ports.

Ankara is also urged to cooperate with other member states in tackling illegal migration.

Favourable climate

On the Cyprus issue, the document urges Turkey to contribute to a favourable climate for a comprehensive settlement.

"This is a reference, if we look back, which relates to property and the settlers, issues that we have raised," he said.

There is a significant improvement over the June 2004 summit conclusions, where Ankara had been seen as helping the UN secretary general in efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue.

"The reference now is completely different because while it welcomes Turkey’s continued readiness for a Cyprus settlement within the framework of the United Nations, it adds that it must be in line with the principles on which the European Union is based," Iacovou said.

Nicosia insists that any future settlement strictly adheres to EU law and principles.

The document also includes references to Greco-Turkish relations, among them the need to protect minority rights at Imbros and Tenedos and to resolve problems facing non-Muslim communities.

Turkey is told efforts to exercise full control of the military by the political leadership should be intensified, while border differences should settled on the basis of the UN charter.
Agios Amvrosios
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