By Constantinos Psillides
EIGHT chapters of Turkey’s accession negotiations could be unblocked immediately, if Ankara opened its ports to Cyprus registered ships and allowed Cyprus Airways to fly through Turkish air space, the palace said yesterday.
Nicos Christodoulides director of the diplomatic office of the President, who was speaking at an event titled ‘Turkey: An uncertain step towards Europe’ blamed Ankara for the lack of progress in its own accession.
The round-table discussion was co-organised by the European Parliament office in Cyprus and the Jean Monet chair of the University of Nicosia.
Christodoulides said opening the ports and air space to Cypriot air and sea traffic, would boost Turkey’s accession negotiations. The same applied to the Varosha package proposal, he said.
His position was also supported by acting head of the European Parliament office in Cyprus, Alexandra Attalides. “Although Turkey has been in Europe’s doorstep for the last five decades and knocking on its door for the last ten years, not much has changed. Progress in negotiations depends on whether Turkey honours its obligations towards the EU,” Attalides said.
Christodoulides said Turkey’s accession would be in Cyprus’ best interest, arguing that a solution of the Cyprus problem would be a part of the process. “We support Turkey joining the EU for the simple reason that we can’t change geography,” he said. “Turkey will continue to be a neighbour country and I think everyone agrees that having an EU member-state next door, one who respects democratic values and human rights, is preferable to a non EU state. It is for that reason that we support Turkish accession negotiations,” Christodoulides said.
Expanding on the subject of Turkey opening its ports and air space to Cyprus ships and air traffic, Christodoulides said it would be a win-win for all sides.
But he warned against an EU-Turkey special relationship agreement. “The worst possible outcome for Cyprus is if the negotiations lead to a privileged relationship between EU and Turkey. Supporters of this solution are increasing within the European Union, even amongst those who strongly favored Turkey joining the EU as a full member state,” he said.
Nicolas Moudouros, a Turkish studies expert, said that Turkey’s ruling party AKP was trying to alter the modern Turkish identity (by reinforcing Islamic tradition and incorporating that new identity into a modern lifestyle) but was being met with resistance. He said it was evident Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was being challenged.
Michalis Attalides, Rector of the University of Nicosia and holder of the Jean Monnet Chair expressed his concern regarding liberties and human rights in the country, saying that there were more journalists in jail in Turkey than in China.