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Media Watch 2006

08 September 2006
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Angelos Marcopoulos
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 8 September 2006.
EU denounces Turkey
"TURKEY'S fresh refusal to allow Cypriot ships and aircraft to use its ports and airports was roundly denounced by top EU officials and ministers"

"Top EU officials denounce Turkey's fresh refusal to open its ports to Cyprus

TURKEY'S fresh refusal to allow Cypriot ships and aircraft to use its ports and airports was roundly denounced by top EU officials and ministers.

Ankara's stand was described as "unfortunate'' by Finland's Foreign Minister, Erkki Tuomioja, the current holder of the EU's rotating presidency.

"This is unfortunate and no good news from Ankara,'' he said in an exclusive interview.

He said Turkey still had two months to comply with the EU protocol asking it to open its ports and airports. The two months is the period before the EU considers Turkey's applocation to join the EU.

"We still have two months to do it, too see if we can avoid a serious crisis in our (EU's) relationship with Turkey," Tuomioja declared. He was echoing earlier statements to The Cyprus Weekly by Finnish President Tarja Halonen who warned Turkey that Finland "is very stubborn, very committed, expecting Turkey to comply'' before the expiry of its (EU) presidency.

The French Minister for EU affairs, Catherine Colonna, agreed with Tuomioja's warning to Turkey, and was even more specific. She told The Cyprus Weekly that "Turkey must take the necessary steps to prove its will to advance and to respect its commitments.'' This must be done before the crucial accession talks begin in two months time, she added.

"At this moment, we still have a little time ahead of us, and I hope that things will change before that important rendezvous,'' otherwise, "the (accession) negotiation process could be affected, he warned. Colonna stressed that Turkey must "change" its negative stance and - "give signs that it respects its commitments."

The EU Parliament's Rapporteur on Turkey, Camiel Eurlings stressed that Turkey's refusal to implement the Ankara Protocol "will have serious implications for the EU negotiations process, and could even lead to its stopping.'' He added that the EU Parliament ``will definitely vote in 3 weeks, before the EU Commission issues its report (on Turkey) in October. Then we (MEPs) will react in the context of another Resolution on Enlargement in general (including Turkey), before EU Council takes its decisions in December".

A similar warning came from German MEP Hans Gert Poettering, the President of the Christian Democrats parliamentary group.

"I can only say that Turkey has to open its port for ships from Cyprus : This is a must. It is a necessity,'' he said in reply to a Cyprus Weekly question.

He also warned that a "more critical'' line on Turkey might be adopted before the final vote of Eurlings Report by the Plenary at the end of September in Strasbourg.

Oli Rehn, the EU Enlargement Commissioner warned earlier in Strasbourg that Turkey has to fulfil the commitments it has undertaken since 2005, in order to obtain the opening of accession negotiations. "It's clear that a possible failure by Turkey to meet its obligations would have consequences for the overall negotiations process. Our aim is to avoid a possible train crash and the risk for EU-Turkey relations to be seriously damaged,'' he said."