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Cyprus

Cyprus positions itself on EU-Turkey talks

Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides

Nicosia has written a letter to the European Commission setting out Cyprus’ position on the opening of new chapters in Ankara’s EU accession slated to happen in March, Phileleftheros reported on Sunday.

At an EU-Turkey summit in Brussels on November 29, Turkey’s accession was re-opened, and 3 billion earmarked in exchange for Ankara’s assistance in stemming the migrant flow to Europe.

Visa liberalisaton between Turkey and the bloc was also to commence mid 2016 and Brussels would also begin preparations to open further chapters – some blocked by Cyprus in 2009 – by next March. Last week at the European Council meeting, discussions began on Chapter 17, on economy and monetary policy, which was not blocked by Cyprus.

Following the November 29 summit Ankara wrote a letter to the European Commission stating for the record that its position on non-recognition of the Cyprus Republic had not changed and it would not apply the visa liberalisation to Greek Cypriots.

Nicosia has now written a letter ‘for the record’ with regard to the opening of blocked chapters in March.

Phileleftheors claimed to have the full text of the letter sent by Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides on December 15.

“Cyprus would like to reiterate its position that the accession process for Turkey, as well as for all candidate states must be in line with the negotiating framework and the relevant Council conclusions and is subject to full non-discriminatory implementation of obligations to all 28 member states,” the letter reportedly says.

“In this regard, Turkey is expected to proceed with fulfilling all of its accession commitments without further delay. While it is for the European Commission in the framework of its powers, to proceed with the preparatory work (screening work) on the negotiating chapters, this is done without prejudice the position of the Republic in respect of chapters frozen in 2009.”

It said as long as the reasons that caused Cyprus to block the chapters in the first place remained, Nicosia’s position would not change. It added that Turkey’s refusal to apply the visa liberalisation to Cyprus, though it has no legal basis, “demonstrates once more Turkey’s uncooperative policy towards one member state and it disputes the spirit of the relaunch of EU relations.”

The letter also links one of the proposed chapters – 24 on justice, freedom and security – to the “systematic policy implemented by Turkey to diversify the demographic character of the occupied areas of Cyprus”.

“This is in direct conflict with the legal order of the EU,” it added.

“Cyprus expects that the discriminatory policies implemented by Turkey will be duly reflected in the assessment of the European Commission, with an urgent call for the need for Turkey to withdraw its unilateral declarations submitted on this issue”.

It concluded that any attempt to revive the opening of chapters especially in connection with Chapter 24, will bring successful results only when political conditions permit and if Turkey proceeds with the necessary preparation for full alignment with the acquis, without discrimination, to all member states, including the Republic of Cyprus.”

The letter has been lodged in the minutes of the General Affairs Council, Phileleftheros said.

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