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Media Watch 2004

27 October 2004
Source: Politis
Comment: The following article appeared in Politis of Nicosia on 17 February 2004.
Recommendations on Cyprus. European Parliament: solution-Turkish troops in draft resolution
"Turkey is called to start withdrawing its occupation forces soon, on the basis of a specific timeframe and as foreseen in UN resolutions"

European Parliament: solution-Turkish troops in draft resolution

Ankara should implement the reforms in practice to meet the political criteria

The European Parliament is unwilling to adopt the Commission’s ‘remission of sins’ granted to Ankara regarding the Cyprus issue. It asks for another reduction of troops.

An appeal to Ankara to maintain its “constructive stance in the efforts to reach a solution of the Cyprus issue, on the basis of a fair solution similar to that of the Annan plan,” is included in the draft report-resolution of the European Parliament on Turkey, which will be discussed today in the Committee on Foreign Affairs in Strasbourg. At the same time, Turkey is called to start withdrawing its occupation forces soon, on the basis of a specific timeframe and as foreseen in UN resolutions.

In the section where positions are recorded, it is noted that “the international community keeps being concerned about the non-recognition of the Republic of Cyprus from Turkey and the fact that more than 30,000 Turkish troops are stationed in north Cyprus.” The most explicit exhortations towards Ankara included in the European Parliament resolution are very close to Nicosia’s wishes despite the relevant documents on Turkey approved recently by the Commission.

The European Parliament members have the right to submit amendments to the draft resolution until November 9 and the voting is expected to take place on December 2, only 15 days before the European Council meeting during which the heads of state will take the decision for the beginning or not of accession negotiations with Turkey.

A change of mentality
The draft resolution of the European Parliament includes the major elements of the regular Commission report and its recommendations on Turkey, such as the fact that the Commission considers that Turkey has sufficiently met the Copenhagen criteria, that the Commission will recommend the suspension of the negotiations, permanent safeguards and the fact that accession negotiations will be an open-ended process and the outcome cannot be guaranteed beforehand. At the same time, references are made to facts, such as the fact that the Theological School of Halki has not opened yet despite the appeals of the European Parliament. In the part of the draft resolution where the Commission welcomes steps that have been made and puts forward its own appeals, it is believed, among others, that the Turkish authorities ought to implement the reforms further and in practice to meet the political criteria. It underlines the need for a change of mentality at all levels of justice, expresses concern over violence against women and calls on the Turkish government to allow return to those who wish to their villages and towns in south-eastern Turkey (Kurdish areas).

The issue of the army
At the same time, it calls on the Turkish government to further reduce the civil force of the army, to recognize that the international law prevails over the national law and to put an end to activities leading to discriminations and difficulties for religious minorities. At this point, a second reference is being made to the Theological School of Halki, calling the government to take the first steps as to its opening.

Finally, the draft resolution reminds the Turkish authorities that Turkey’s accession course should settle pending legal issues with EU member-states, including the legal recognition and the settlement of common interests. This reference may be considered positive for the Cypriot demands.

What the European Parliament resolution has managed, according to diplomatic sources, is to adopt a positive attitude towards Ankara without disregarding vital interests or concerns of member-states and citizens. As for the latter, in particular, there are several appeals for information and dialogue."