Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides on Tuesday welcomed the draft enlargement report for Turkey, as approved by the European Union’s General Affairs Council.
In a press statement issued right after the adoption of the report, Kasoulides said that all of Turkey`s obligations relating to Cyprus are present in the text.
According to the foreign minister, the European Commission`s proposals or preparation for the opening of further negotiating chapters does not preempt the final decision of the member states to do so.
The report “deplored” Turkey’s unilateral statement refusing to include Cyprus in the visa liberalization application roadmap, which Kasoulides said has “no effect whatsoever on member states”.
He noted that, the negotiations with candidate states for EU accession being purely intergovernmental affairs, the Commission may voice recommendations or proposals, but these will not necessarily be adopted by member states.
“The same is true of the six accession chapters Cyprus unilaterally froze in 2009,” Kasoulides said.
“Since circumstances have not changed, Cyprus’ position will not change.”
Entitled “Enlargement Turkey”, the report welcomed Turkey’s renewed commitment of the “new Turkish government to EU accession”, and said the Council stands ready to fully support Turkey in case it intends to intensify work on negotiating pre-accession chapter benchmarks.
“However, a number of developments give cause for serious concern,” the report read.
Turkey urgently needs to address major shortcomings in the areas of rule of law and fundamental rights, it said, reversing the undermining of independence and impartiality of the judiciary.
“The Council reiterates that Turkey needs to commit itself unequivocally to good neighbourly relations and to the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the United Nations Charter,” the report added.
“Moreover, the EU stresses again all the sovereign rights of EU Member States. The Council recalls that the European Council, in its conclusions of 24 October 2014, […] urged Turkey to show restraint and to respect Cyprus’ sovereignty over its territorial sea and Cyprus’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone.”
Further, the report noted that Turkey continues refusing to implement the Ankara Protocol, recognizing all EU member states, the fulfillment of which “could provide a significant boost to the negotiation process”.
“Furthermore, Turkey has regrettably still not made progress towards the necessary normalisation of its relations with the Republic of Cyprus.”
The Council, the report warned, reiterates that recognition of all member states is a necessary component of the accession process, and called for progress without further delay.
In terms of the ongoing talks for a settlement to the Cyprus problem, the Council “expects Turkey to actively support the negotiations aimed at a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem […] in line with the principles on which the Union is founded”.