Cyprus said on Monday it would not end its opposition to Turkish accession negotiations with the European Union, saying the reasons it had blocked them in the first place remained valid.
European Union leaders last week pledged to ‘re-energise’ long-stalled accession negotiations with Ankara in return for its help in tackling a migration crisis that has seen hundreds of thousands of people fleeing conflicts and poverty in the Middle East and Africa pour into Europe.
“The reasons they (the negotiations) were frozen have not ceased to exist,” Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told the Greek state broadcaster NET. “As things presently stand, we cannot give our consent (to their resumption).”
He referred specifically to two chapters (23,24), or policy areas in accession negotiations, concerning the judiciary and fundamental rights, and justice, freedom and security.
Cyprus is blocking the accession talks because Turkey still keeps troops in the breakaway northern part of the island whose government is recognised only by Ankara.
Turkey has refused to implement the Additional or ‘Ankara’ Protocol with EU, which would require the Turkish government to remove all discriminatory obstacles towards Cyprus as member state.
The Turkish ban on Cypriot air and sea traffic is a major aspect of the protocol, and the delay in implementing it for Cyprus, has since 2006, prevented any movement on eight chapters necessary for Turkey to move forward with its EU accession.
On-off peace talks over the years to reunite the island as a federation have failed, but diplomats say a present round of talks are showing encouraging signs of progress.
On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country “is ready this year to open Chapter 17 (economic policy), and make preparations for 23 and 24. We can talk about the details.”
Merkel made the comment during a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Istanbul.
Asked how the EU could convince the Greek Cypriots when it came to opening chapters, Merkel acknowledged that the approval of all member states was needed to open chapters but said they would also offer support to Cyprus, but she said the main issue right now was to resolve the migrant situation.
Chapter 17 is not among those frozen by Cyprus.