The EU Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs urged Turkey in its Conclusions, on Tuesday, to respect Cyprus` sovereign rights and expressed “deep regret” over Turkey`s refusal to implement the Ankara Protocol that is to say to normalise its relations with the Republic of Cyprus.
Cyprus, Greece and Austria were of the view that no new chapter of the negotiation between Turkey and the EU should be opened at the moment. On the other hand, 14 member states, were of the view that chapters 23 and 24 should be opened, while the rest didn’t express any opinion.
Addressing a press conferenceon the sidelines of the Council, Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides said he stressed to his European counterparts that by having Turkish seismic exploration vessel “Barbaros” remain in Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone conducting research with no indication as to whether it will leave Turkey questions the very existence of the Republic of Cyprus as a legal entity.
He added he told them that he speaks not only as a Cypriot, but also as a European. And as a European, he said, “I disagreed with the position that by opening the chapters a message of hope will be sent to all those democratic and pro-European Turks, rather than a message of reward for Erdogan”.
All those who wish to send a message by opening two chapters, he pointed out, should know that Erdogan will interpret the message as his own victory which he will then convey via the only media operating which he controls. Other journalists he recalled are in prison, adding that the greatest number of journalists in prison are in Turkey.
Kasoulides said he asked his counterparts “what are you going to negotiate about with Erdogan? Are you going to negotiate whether women are equal to men or not? And how are you going to negotiate when already 8,500 judges and 850 public prosecutors have been transferred? When freedom of speech, as it has been reported, was violated before the elections with the suspension of operation of social network and communication services?”
I concluded, he added, by saying that “I am certain that if you believe that you will keep Ergogan under check from doing all the above by opening the chapters, that is to say that by negotiating you will bring him back on track, then he will tell you to `mind your own business`, which is what he did”
Sources say that at the last minute Holland asked to strengthen the conclusions so that they can reflect the EU`s dissatisfaction over the recent arrests of journalists, a position which was accepted.
In its conclusions the Council reiterates that “Turkey needs to commit itself unequivocally to good neighbourly relations and to the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the United Nations Charter, having recourse, if necessary, to the International Court of Justice”.
In this context, the Union “expresses once again serious concern, and urges Turkey to avoid any kind of threat or action directed against a Member State, or source of friction or actions, which damage good neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes”.
Moreover, the EU “stresses again all the sovereign rights of EU Member States. This includes, inter alia, the right to enter into bilateral agreements and to explore and exploit natural resources in accordance with the EU acquis and international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and also stresses the need to respect the sovereignty of Member States over their territorial sea and airspace”.
“The Council recalls that the European Council, in its conclusions of 24 October 2014, expressed serious concern about the renewed tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and urged Turkey to show restraint and to respect Cyprus’ sovereignty over its territorial sea and Cyprus’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone”.
At the same time the Council notes `deep regret that Turkey, despite repeated calls, continues refusing to fulfil its obligation of full, non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement towards all Member States, the fulfilment of which could provide a significant boost to the negotiation process”.
In the absence of progress on this issue, the conclusions continue, “the Council will maintain its measures from 2006, which will have a continuous effect on the overall progress of the negotiations”.
Furthermore, it is noted that “Turkey has regrettably still not made progress towards the necessary normalisation of its relations with the Republic of Cyprus”.
The Council reiterates that “recognition of all Member States is a necessary component of the accession process”, and invites the Commission to “continue to monitor closely and specifically report on all issues covered by the declaration of 21 September 2005 in its forthcoming annual report”.
The Council reiterates “its call for progress without any further delay”.
Finally, the Council also welcomes “the engagement by the parties to the settlement of the Cyprus problem, as demonstrated in the joint declaration of 11 February 2014”.
“As emphasised by the Negotiating Framework, the Council expects Turkey to actively support the negotiations aimed at a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem within the UN framework, in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and in line with
the principles on which the Union is founded”.
It is pointed out that “Turkey’s commitment and contribution in concrete terms to such a comprehensive settlement is crucial”.
“Under the current circumstances, the Council considers it more important than ever to ensure a positive climate so that negotiations for a comprehensive Cyprus’ settlement can resume”, the conclusions say.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied it`s northern third.Numerous rounds of UN-backed talks to reunite the island under a federal roof have failed to yield results.
Recently, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades decided to suspend his participation in settlement talks, following Turkey`s provocative acts in the island`s exclusive economic zone.
Turkish seismic exploration vessel Barbaros entered Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone in October, a few days after Turkey had issued an illegal maritime order (NAVTEX) for the area.