Turkey’s continuous refusal to normalise its relations with the Republic of Cyprus, is critisized by the European Commission in its progress report on Turkey, issued Wednesday.

According to the European Commission’s progress report on Turkey, which covers the period from October 2012 to September 2013, Turkey has not yet lifted its veto of Cyprus’ membership of several international organisations, while it continued to issue statements challenging the Republic of Cyprus’ rights to exploit hydrocarbon resources in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone.

In addition, the report notes that Turkey’s commitment in concrete terms to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem is crucial, and calls upon Ankara to implement all judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, including the ones concerning Cyprus.

The Commission’s report also critisizes Ankara’s stance during the Cyprus EU Presidency.

Regarding the Cyprus issue, it is said that Turkey continued to express public support for the negotiations between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus under the good offices of the UN Secretary-General, for a fair, comprehensive and viable solution.

It is added that Turkey granted the Committee on Missing Persons increased access to “a fenced military area in the northern part of Cyprus”, and is encouraged to build on this welcome step and be more accommodating of the Committee’s requirements to access relevant archives and military zones for exhumation.

“As emphasised in the negotiating framework and Council declarations, Turkey is expected to actively support the negotiations aimed at a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus issue within the UN framework, in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and in line with the principles on which the EU is founded” it goes on to add.

The report notes that Turkey’s commitment in concrete terms to such a comprehensive settlement is crucial.

Meanwhile, in its strategy report, the Commission notes it expects the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities to resume negotiations for an overall solution under the UN auspices and encourages them to contribute to the creation of a positive climate through steps, to the benefit of Cypriots and prepare the public opinion for the necessary compromises, since the benefits of a solution would be greater than any compromises made.

The Commission expresses its readiness to further enhance its support to the process, provided that this is requested by the two sides and agreed by the UN.

In its progress report on Turkey the Commission stresses that despite repeated calls by the Council and the Commission, Turkey has still not complied with its obligations as outlined in the declaration of the European Community and its Member States of 21 September 2005 and in Council conclusions, including those of December 2006 and December 2010.

It further notes that Turkey has not fulfilled its obligation to ensure full and non-discriminatory implementation of 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.

In addition, “there was no progress on normalising bilateral relations with the Republic of Cyprus” and “Turkey has not lifted its veto of Cyprus’ membership of several international organisations”.

The report critisizes Turkey for its stance as regards Cyprus’ right to explore its Exclusive Economic Zone.

“Turkey continued to issue statements challenging the Republic of Cyprus’ rights to exploit hydrocarbon resources in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone for the benefit of all Cypriots, and announced retaliatory measures against one EU company awarded an exploration license by Cyprus”.

The report points out that the EU stressed the sovereign rights of EU Member States, which include, inter alia, entering into bilateral agreements, and to explore and exploit their natural resources in accordance with the EU acquis and international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

References are made on Turkey’s stance during the Cyprus EU Presidency (July – December 2012). It is noted that Turkey issued a circular to all its multilateral embassies instructing them to avoid contacts with the EU Council Presidency in the second half of 2012, when it was held by Cyprus.

In addition, it is said that the rate of Turkey’s alignment as regards the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) (46% alignment) was affected inter alia by its approach to the EU during the second half of 2012 when Cyprus held the Presidency of the Council of the EU and Turkey did not align with any EU declaration or statement in the framework of international organisations.

In addition, Turkey did not support the holding of Union for the Mediterranean
(UfM) Ministerial meetings during the Cyprus Presidency.

The report also refers to the European Court of Human Rights’ judgments regarding Turkey, noting that during the reporting period, the ECHR delivered judgments on 115 applications, finding that Turkey had violated rights guaranteed by the ECHR.

“The EU has called on Turkey to enhance its efforts to implement all the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights”, it is said.

The report notes that in the Cyprus v. Turkey case, “the issues of missing persons and restrictions on the property rights of Greek Cypriots displaced or living permanently in the northern part of Cyprus remain pending”, while in a number of other cases, including Xenides-Arestis v. Turkey, Demades v. Turkey, and Varnava and others v. Turkey, Turkey has yet to fully execute the decision.

In addition, there are references to the Greece – Turkey relations, noting that “the threat of casus belli in response to any extension of Greek territorial waters, as made in a Turkish Grand National Assembly resolution in 1995, still stands”.

In this context, it recalls that 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 could damage good neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

In addition, the report notes that Greece and Cyprus made formal complaints about violations of their territorial waters and airspace by Turkey, including flights over Greek islands.

The Republic of Cyprus, which entered the EU in May 2004, is divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and since then occupy 37% of Cyprus’ territory despite repeated calls by numerous organizations, such as the UN, the EU, the Commonwealth and the Non – Alignment Movement.

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