Cypriot MEPs call on Turkey to fulfill its EU obligations

Cypriot MEPs call on Turkey to fulfill its EU obligations

The EU plenary in Strasbourg on Wednesday discussed Turkey`s progress report which will be put on vote tomorrow.

The report was prepared by rapporteur Kati Piri of the S&D group.
Interventions were made by all the MEPs from all the political groups, while statements were read by the Latvian Presidency of the Council and the European Commission.

The report on Turkey is unacceptable, said Cypriot DISI and EPP MEP, Eleni Theocharous, noting in her intervention that it marginalizes the Republic of Cyprus and poses serious dangers, while threatening to create a Turkish protectorate or a Trojan horse in Cyprus, through which Turkey will swamp Europe with millions of Muslim fundamentalists.

She added, among others, that the report detaches the Cyprus problem from Turkey`s EU accession course, promotes the opening of new negotiation chapters without Ankara meeting its obligations towards the Republic of Cyprus and the EU, while advocating deeper integration in the framework of the customs union when Turkey does not implement the Additional Protocol.

DISI and EPP MEP Lefteris Christoforou said from his part that the European Parliament owes to tell Turkey directly that it gets no pass mark in its evaluation report. Not only was Ankara unresponsive in showing respect towards basic European principles and international law, but it has also deteriorated its ranking in comparison to last years` report, the Cypriot MEP added.

Turkey continues not to implement the Ankara Protocol, a direct insult to all EU member states and institutions, while denying to recognize Cyprus, an EU member, Christoforou said, while underlining the lack of respect by the Turkish side for the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and for Cyprus` sovereign rights.

Shadow rapporteur Takis Hadjigeorgiou, an MEP of AKEL and GUE/NGL, noted that there are both negative and positive elements contained in the report. He referred to developments in Cyprus, with the resumption of settlement talks and called the Presidents of the European Parliament and the European Commission to be present in the negotiations, safeguarding that the proposals are in conformity with the acquis.

He welcomed the emergence of the new Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and said that a prospective agreement between the two leaders in Cyprus must be met with pressure towards Turkey for solving the problems` international aspects, such as guarantees and the retreat of troops.

AKEL and GUE/NGL MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis asked during his intervention why the rapporteur has called for new chapters to open, when a few months ago the EP had condemned Turkey`s violations in the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Cyprus.

In order for new chapters to open, Turkey must first sign and ratify the UNCLOS, recognize the Republic of Cyprus and respect the country`s sovereign rights, Sylikiotis added.

Democratic Party and S&D MEP Costas Mavrides observed that there is lack of progress for Turkey in the report, while noting that 10 years have passed since Cyprus gave its consent for Ankara to start accession talks with the EU. Responding to a previous observation, he noted that Turkey`s EU course will be wide open once the EP asks the Turkish Premier Erdogan to withdraw Turkish occupation forces from Cyprus, and lend his support for a Cyprus solution, based on European principles and the acquis.

He also asked fellow MEPs to refrain from talking about “North Cyprus” when referring to the Turkish-occupied northern third of the island.

Demetris Papadakis, an MEP of EDEK and S&D said that EU-Turkey relations are at a crucial point, where the government in Ankara must display its willingness to become part of the European family. All lies must end, Papadakis added and said that the EP must send a clear message, asking Turkey to prove in practice that the country respects human rights, the sovereign rights of its neighboring countries and international law.

We want Turkey to be a force for peace and stability, not an agent for instability, causing trouble in the region, the Cypriot MEP concluded.
The Latvian Presidency of the EU Council and the European Commission said that the report on Turkey is balanced, however they called on Turkey to make decisive steps to address many issues that are of their concern.

The Latvian Presidency was represented by Zanda Kalniņa-Lukaševica. Parliamentary State Secretary for European Affairs
whereas Commissioner Christos Stylianides addressed the plenary in Strasbourg on behalf of the European Commission.

Lukaševica said that Turkey has an important role in the region and that equally important is its relationship with the EU. She praised the contribution in the fight against terrorism, Turkey`s contribution in receiving two million refugees from Iraq and Syria , stressing out that economic assistance will be given to Turkey in order to overcome the growing influxes of refugees.

She stressed that further progress must be made in the country`s reforms, adding that Turkey needs to show political will and courage to this end.

On Cyprus the Latvian Minister called on Turkey to respect the sovereign rights of the island in its EEZ and welcomed the resumption of the peace talks for the reunification of the country under a federal roof.

She expressed her concern about the internal situation in the country, the violations of human rights, freedom of speech and censorship against the media , adding that a large number of amendments has been submitted , a fact that show how much importance the EP gives on the issue.

Commissioner Stylianidis said that the report is of high quality and reflects the endless efforts that were made in order to achieve compromises.
On Cyprus the Commissioner referred to the resumption of the talks and noted the importance of the momentum created.
He added that the EC supports the efforts by the UN and called on Turkey to contribute to the process in a positive and productive manner.

Stylianides also expressed his concerns on the internal situation in Turkey, the freedom of speech and the need for the basic human rights and freedoms to be respected, pointing out that the EC is looking forward to have a closer cooperation with Turkey after the elections in June.

The rapporteur on Turkey`s report Kati Piri said that we need to encourage Turkey to intensify its reforms and to show respect for the principles and values of the EU.
She referred to the role of Ankara in the refugee tragedies in Syria and Iraq and reaffirmed EU`s support to this end.

Piri also referred to the resumption of the talks in Cyprus and stressed that this is a unique opportunity to find a solution that will be for the benefit of all Cypriots.

Cyprus was divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. A new round of UN-backed talks is underway with the aim to reunite the island under a federal roof. Turkey, which aspires to join the EU does not recognize Cyprus, an EU member since 2004.