By Jean Christou
THE EU ON Monday called on Turkey to implement the Additional or ‘Ankara’ Protocol, 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.
Cyprus also raised the discrimination against its citizens travelling to Turkey, which has excluded the Cyprus Republic as an EU member state in its options for online applications, using instead the ‘Greek Cypriot Administration in Southern Cyprus’.
On Monday, following the latest meeting of the EU-Turkey Association Council, a statement from the council said that although it had noted the clear statement of Turkey’s commitment to the accession process, the EU had made its position clear on the non-implementation of the protocol.
“Full non-discriminatory implementation towards all EU member states is an obligation and as such must be honoured,” said the statement.
It said the EU had reiterated its call for progress on the issue, and had underlined that such implementation could provide a significant boost to the Cyprus negotiations process, which resumed on February 11.
The statement said the EU also welcomed the resumption of Cyprus talks. “Turkey’s commitment and contribution in concrete terms to such a comprehensive settlement remains crucial,” it said.
“The EU also reiterated its position on good neighbourly relations and stressed again that maintaining good neighbourly relations is an essential part of the accession process.”
The Council meeting was chaired by Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, whose country currently holds the six monthly EU presidency. Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule represented the European Commission while Turkey was represented by European Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
In a written statement after the meeting, Fule said there had been a good exchange of views.
“I stressed also today that it is important to sustain the momentum in the accession negotiations in the interest of both parties and in order to achieve real and tangible results,” said Fule.
He said he had also underlined that the implementation of the Additional Protocol would inject new life into the accession process. Several chapters could be opened and some even closed relatively quickly, Fule said.
“The accession negotiations are the central engine of our relations. But they can only move forward in parallel with convincing progress in both: the political reforms and on all Cyprus related issues,” he added.
Venizelos said the EU had called on Turkey to “fully and unconditionally” to implement the protocol and work towards building progress in its relations with all the EU members.
Çavuşoğlu talked about his country`s determination to pursue various reforms, but expressed dissatisfaction that 17 chapters – eight Cyprus related – in Turkey`s accession negotiations were still frozen. He called on EU to open these chapters without any further delay and said that no political obstacles should be out forward in his country`s path to becoming an EU member.
The Cyprus government described the Council’s statement as a “document of the utmost importance” and that Turkey had no choice but to meet its obligations if it wished to move towards accession, Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides told the Cyprus News Agency.