Cyprus said on Thursday said the position expressed by European Parliament on EU visa liberalisation for Turkish nationals reflected the views of the Republic.
European Parliament President Martin Schulz said on Wednesday lawmakers would not deal with the proposal before Turkey meets all the of the 72 criteria, adding he did not see this happening before July.
Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides, referring a meeting on Wednesday between Schulz and Turkey’s Minister for EU Affairs Volkan Bozkir said: “Yesterday Mr Schulz… essentially confirmed what the government has said from the beginning when the subject saw the light of day; that they should not jump the gun. They came out with announcements, made declarations and reached conclusions without even beginning to discuss the issue,” Christodoulides said of the Commission when it agreed to the deal in return for Turkey’s continued support in stemming the migrant flow to Europe.
“The European Parliament’s position is the position expressed by the Republic of Cyprus in the relevant working groups when they began discussing the issue May 11 that the first discussions could not begin because Turkey had not fulfilled all the criteria required to consider the matter.”
This was the position expressed by the overwhelming majority of member states, the spokesman added.
After meeting Schulz on Wednesday, Bozkir said he had listened to the explanation as to why the Parliament had stopped the process.
“But of course Turkey has worked very hard in the fulfilment of the expectations and this is not a mathematics problem; this is a political problem; so we can’t say 1;2;3;4; 14 is missing: 13 is not there; but you can interpret most of the expectations many different ways; so the political interpretation is important and we think that our interpretation is that we have fulfilled our expectations sufficiently enough for you to have moot this in the Parliament,” he said to Schulz.
Bozkir said the issue of press freedom in Turkey was discussable, and that Turkey was ready to listen to criticism but was only possible if Turkey felt like it was in the family of the European Union.
“If Turkey is pushed out of this very important family, then your criticism will never reach the important points in Turkey,” he added.
“We can discuss this and find a way out which will satisfy the European Communities but the press freedoms and all the relevant questions has not been a part of visa liberation road map,” he added.
Schulz said he had explained why he hadn’t sent the draft for the visa liberalisation which the Commission had sent on to the Parliament on May 4 and that he had explained the reasons to Bozkir as to why he decided that the requirements the Parliament thought the Turkish side should have fulfilled had “from our point of view”, not been completed and therefore the preconditions to start the process at the European Parliament were not yet met.
“This is a point of disagreement, I think we should not hide it,” said Schulz.
He said there was “absolutely an understanding” that the country affected by terrorism wants to protect its citizens against attacks and that measures of public order and police measures and even secret service measures were necessary.
However, the impression, the scope and the interpretation was so far reaching that some of the measures were touching not directly on the fight against terrorism but freedom of expression of media. “And this leads to a highly controversial debate here in the European Parliament, there is no reason to hide it, this is a reality,” Schulz added.