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Turkey report ‘critical but constructive’, EP says, Ankara to send it back (update)

Kati Piri

European Parliament rapporteur Kati Piri said on Wednesday that the Cyprus problem was very well reflected in the resolution of the European Parliament on Turkey’s reform report for 2014.

Piri`s report was approved on Wednesday by 432 votes to 94, with 127 abstentions.

The Dutch MEP said she was very happy that the report was adopted by the European Parliament with a large majority. “That is important because a divided parliament cannot send strong messages to any country,” Piri told the press and noted that “the report is very critical about developments in Turkey and tries to be constructive on what should be our reaction to these developments”.

Piri said that the Cyprus question was “very well reflected now in the report”.

“When we talk about the Turkey report we should focus on Turkey and by now this report has five or six long paragraphs dealing with Cyprus. I can imagine that is very important for Cypriot citizens and politicians that positions are put there clearly, but we should also keep it in balance. What I try to do is keep the report balanced and I think that the Cyprus question is very well reflected now in the report”.

Piri said that there was now “a very important window of opportunity” for the Cyprus problem, as the negotiations between the two leaders resumed last month. “The European Parliament has already clearly stated that we support the reunification of Cyprus”.

Turkey said it would refuse to accept the report, and would return it to the European Parliament for several reasons, including the Cyprus references. Piri responded it was a pity. “We do have our concerns about Turkey but we want to be open for dialogue” she said, noting that “the dialogue will not be made easier by this type of approach”. The report had not made any reference to opening any new chapters on Turkey`s accession to the Union.

In its resolution, the European Parliament called on Ankara to start withdrawing its troops from Cyprus.
It reiterated its strong support for the reunification of Cyprus as a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation under  UN resolutions and EU norms.
“Turkey must begin to withdraw its troops and transfer the Famagusta area to the UN, while the Republic of Cyprus should open the port of Famagusta under EU customs supervision and allow Turkish Cypriots to trade with the EU in a legal manner… Turkey should also refrain from further settlement of Turkish citizens in the occupied areas of Cyprus,” the MEPs said.
This would promote a positive climate conducive to the successful resolution of the ongoing reunification negotiations…’ it added.

Turkey must also allow the Committee on Missing Persons full access to all relevant archives and military zones in the northern part of Cyprus for exhumation and to provide all relevant information that will lead to the discovery of relocated remains.

The EP said that the Turkish Government must also sign and ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and underlined the Republic of Cyprus’ lawful right to enter into bilateral agreements concerning its exclusive economic zone.

The MEPs also deplored Turkey’s refusal to fulfil its obligation of full, non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the EC-Turkey Association Agreement vis-à-vis all member states, recalling that this refusal continues to have a profound effect on the negotiation process. The protocol calls on Ankara to normalise relations with Cyprus – which it does not recognise – as an EU member state.

An amendment approved by the MEPs reiterated relevant European Court of Human Rights decisions and called on the Turkish government to immediately stop the violation of the human rights of Cypriot citizens and stop depriving them of the enjoyment and exercise of their property, religious and other human rights stemming from the constitutional order of the Republic of Cyprus and the acquis communautaire, as well as the fundamental principles and values of the EU.

The MEPs said Turkey must put its reform process at the centre of domestic policy choices and commit “unequivocally” to democratic rules and principles, which are at the heart of the EU. They urged the country to respect media freedom, free expression and judicial independence and welcome the recent parliamentary elections.
The EP called on all political parties in Turkey to work towards the establishment of a stable and inclusive government which should reinvigorate the democratisation process in Turkey and its reform dialogue with the EU.
It also condemned the Turkish government’s attempts to ban access to social media and websites, the intimidation of journalists and other pressures put on them.
EU-Turkey foreign policy cooperation and counter-terrorism dialogue must be stepped up, and Turkey must use all its resources to fight terrorist groups such as the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the MEPs stressed. (CNA)

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