EU Ministers urge Turkey to normalize its relations with the Republic of Cyprus

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The EU Council of Ministers has urged Turkey to avoid any kind of threat or action directed against a Member State, to normalise its relations with the Republic of Cyprus and to implement the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement towards all Member States.

In its Council Conclusions, the General Affairs Council stresses all the sovereign rights of EU Member States which include, inter alia, entering into bilateral agreements, and to explore and exploit their natural resources. It also describes as crucial Turkey’s commitment and contribution in concrete terms to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

In its conclusions, 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, having recourse, if necessary, to the International Court of Justice.

“In this context, the Union expresses once again serious concern, and urges Turkey to avoid any kind of threat or action directed against a Member State, or source of friction or actions, which could damage good neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes”, the EU Ministers stress.

Moreover, the EU stresses again all the sovereign rights of EU Member States which include, inter alia, entering into bilateral agreements, and to explore and exploit their natural resources in accordance with the EU acquis and international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Recalling its conclusions of 11 December 2006 and the declaration of 21 September 2005, the Council notes with deep regret that Turkey, despite repeated calls, continues refusing to fulfill its obligation of full, non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement towards all Member States.

“This could provide a significant boost to the negotiation process”, the Council notes.

In the absence of progress on this issue, the Council says it will maintain its measures from 2006, which will have a continuous effect on the overall progress of the negotiations.

Furthermore, it is underlined that “Turkey has regretfully still not made progress towards the necessary normalisation of its relations with the Republic of Cyprus”.

“The Council invites the Commission to continue to monitor closely and specifically report on all issues covered by the declaration of the European Community and its Member States of 21 September 2005 in its forthcoming annual report. The Council reiterates its call for progress without any further delay”, it stresses.

As emphasised by the Negotiating Framework, the Council also expects Turkey to actively support the ongoing negotiations aimed at a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem within the UN framework, in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and in line with the principles on which the Union is founded.

“Turkey’s commitment and contribution in concrete terms to such a comprehensive settlement is crucial”, it is stated.

Moreover, the Council deeply regrets Turkey’s freezing of its relations with the EU Presidency during the second half of 2012, the statements made by Turkey in this regard, as well as the non alignment with EU positions or statements in international fora.

Recalling the European Council conclusions of 9 December 2011, the Council underlines that the Presidency of the Council of the EU is provided for in the Treaty on European Union, and calls for full respect of its role.

The Council notes that Turkey is a candidate country and a key partner for the European Union considering its dynamic economy and strategic location.

“It is in the interest of both parties that accession negotiations regain momentum soon, ensuring that the EU remains the benchmark for reforms in Turkey”, the EU Ministers note.

In addition, the Council states that Turkey will be able to accelerate the pace of negotiations by advancing in the fulfillment of benchmarks, meeting the requirements of the Negotiating Framework and by respecting its contractual obligations towards the EU.

The Council welcomes a number of positive developments in the area of democracy and the rule of law, but at the same time it notes “with growing concern” the lack of substantial progress towards fully meeting the political criteria and calls on Turkey to further improve the observance of fundamental rights and freedoms in law and in practice, in particular in the area of freedom of expression, and to enhance its efforts to implement all the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

On the readmission agreement, the Council notes that the EU attaches great importance to the issue, and looks forward to its signature, in parallel with the initiation of the dialogue on visa liberalisation between the European Commission and Turkish authorities.

It also recalls that Turkey is one of the key transit countries for illegal immigration to the EU, and states that adequate implementation of existing bilateral readmission agreements and readmission provisions contained in similar agreements remains a priority.