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EP regrets Turkey's remarks to freeze relations with Cyprus' EU Presidency

02. April 2012. | 08:26 08:29

Source: AMNA

Author: V.Demiris/CNA

The European Parliament adopted on Thursday a resolution on the progress report on Turkey, pointing out that further progress of its accession course is closely related with reforms and keeping the promises it has undertaken as a candidate state.

The European Parliament adopted on Thursday a resolution on the progress report on Turkey, pointing out that further progress of its accession course is closely related with reforms and keeping the promises it has undertaken as a candidate state.

The resolution also denounces Ankara's refusal to withdraw a casus belli threat against Greece while calling it to stop violations of Greece's airspace and flights of Turkish aicraft over Greek islands.

MEPs also regret Ankara's statements that it will freeze relations with Cyprus' EU Presidency if the Cyprus problem is not resolved by mid-2012. The Parliament expressed support for the ongoing UN-led reunification negotiations and asked Turkey to begin withdrawing its forces from Cyprus.

It "strongly supports the ongoing negotiations on the reunification of Cyprus under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations" and "stresses that a fair and viable settlement of the Cyprus issue must now be reached as a matter of urgency and calls on Turkey and all the parties concerned to work intensively and with good will for a comprehensive agreement".

In addition, it calls on the Government of Turkey to begin withdrawing its forces from Cyprus and to transfer Famagusta to the United Nations in accordance with Resolution 550 (1984) of the United Nations Security Council. At the same time, it "calls, in parallel, on the Republic of Cyprus to open the port of Famagusta under EU customs supervision in order to promote a positive climate for the successful solution of the ongoing reunification negotiations and allow Turkish Cypriots to trade directly in a legal manner that is acceptable to all".

The resolution further "encourages Turkey to intensify its support for the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus".

It also calls on Turkey "to refrain from any new settlement of Turkish citizens on Cyprus, as this would continue to change the demographic balance and reduce the allegiance of its citizens on the island to a future common state based on its common past".

Moreover, "it regrets Turkey's statements that it will freeze relations with the Presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2012 if a solution to the Cyprus issue is not found by then" and "recalls that the European Union is based on the principles of sincere cooperation and mutual solidarity amongst all its Member States and that as a candidate country Turkey must commit to serene relations with the European Union and all its Member States; further recalls that the Presidency of the Council of the European Union is provided for in the Treaty on European Union".

In addition, "it emphasises that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) has been signed by the EU, the 27 Member States and all other candidate countries and that it is part of the acquis communautaire" and therefore "calls on the Government of Turkey to sign and ratify it without further delay; recalls the full legitimacy of the Republic of Cyprus' exclusive economic zone, in accordance with UNCLOS".

It calls on Turkey to allow political dialogue between the EU and NATO by lifting its veto on EU-NATO cooperation including Cyprus, and consequently calls on the Republic of Cyprus to lift its veto on Turkey's participation in the European Defence Agency.

The rapporteur of the report, Dutch MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten said that the "interdependence between the EU and Turkey, stressed by our resolution, can only produce positive results if framed in a context of mutual commitment. For Turkey, this means concrete results in the reform process and improvement in the bilateral relations with its neighbours. For the EU, renewed efforts are needed to create conditions for the opening of the chapters.''

According to the resolution, MEPs note that EU-Turkey relations need fresh impetus, but will get it only if Turkey makes more progress on reform.

The resolution, on the Commission's 2011 report on Turkey's progress towards joining the EU, urges Turkey to do more to reform its judiciary and protect civil liberties and sets out concerns about its laws curbing media freedom and many trials of journalists.

The resolution voices concerns about the deterioration of media freedom and laws limiting the freedom of expression in Turkey, many court cases against journalists and excessively long pre-trial detention periods.

The Parliament stresses that reform for a modern, independent and impartial judiciary should create the right conditions for opening negotiations on judiciary and fundamental rights and on justice and home affairs. MEPs back the Commission's new approach of opening these chapters early on in the negotiating process and closing them at the very end.

The reform in the area of freedom of thought is vital, MEPs stress, calling for equal treatment of all religious communities. Equal rights for women are also needed, as well as zero tolerance of violence against women and children and the broadest possible access to education.

As regards constitutional reform, MEPs note that Turkey needs to put the 2010 constitutional reform package into effect and ensure a serene political process, based on consensus, for drafting a new civilian constitution. Civil society must be included in this process.

MEPs say that in drafting the constitution, Turkey should provide for full recognition of all its ethnic and religious communities, acknowledge the inclusive nature of modern citizenship and promote the constitutional protection of mother-tongue language rights.

The resolution also urges Turkey to find a political solution to the Kurdish issue.

The resolution points out that Turkey is the only EU candidate country not benefiting from visa liberalisation. It calls for a roadmap for visa liberalisation once Turkey has signed the readmission agreement on illegal immigration.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. UN-led talks are currently underway between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus with an aim to reunify the island.

Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus and has so far failed to meet its commitments to the EU related to Cyprus, including nornalising relations with Nicosia.


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