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Cypriot MEPs abstain from Turkey report vote

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Five Cypriot MEPs cited the reference to the need for an alternative to accession for Ankara as the reason for abstaining during the European Parliament’s progress report vote on Turkey.

MEPs also cited references to the Parliament’s support for a potentially upgraded Customs Union, with some citing the language as problematic and references to the need for the Republic of Cyprus to facilitate EU cooperation with the Turkish Cypriot community.

This year’s report (adopted by 434 votes in favour, 18 against and 152 abstentions) was one of the most severe on Turkey, noting that the accession process cannot continue under the current circumstances and that alternative ways of cooperation should be sought.

Regarding the Cyprus problem, the Parliament calls on Turkey to abandon its pro-two-state solution stance. It underlines that the only viable solution remains a bizonal bicommunal federation as defined by the United Nations.

Speaking to CNA, Left MEP George Georgiou (AKEL), one of the shadow rapporteurs of the report, noted that “although positive in its assessment of Turkey’s unacceptable internal political situation”, the report “limits its criticism of Turkey’s actions in its relations with neighbouring states and the region in general”.

“Our abstention was mainly prompted by a reference to paragraph 36, which essentially cancels the prospect of Turkey’s accession to the EU, offering it a special relationship through which Turkey will reap gains (upgrading the customs union, visas and others) without committing itself to certain obligations (Cyprus, rule of law, Copenhagen criteria and so on)”.

From the EPP, Loukas Fourlas (DISY) said this is a text “with very harsh references to Turkey with commonly accepted findings that no progress has been achieved in all areas of relations with the EU”.

“The report records Turkey’s provocation about Cyprus using harsh language, but also regarding human rights and the freedoms of Turkish citizens.

“Instead of discussing how Turkey has to comply and implement its commitments, they insist on repeating references to a special relationship through the Customs Union and visa (liberalisation) even under conditionality.

Controversial

“Also controversial is paragraph 34, which leaves shadows in how the Commission will approach the Turkish Cypriot community…this led us to abstain”.

Left MEP Niyazi Kiziliyurek (AKEL) told CNA that the main reason for his abstention was “the report contains a recommendation that the accession process should not continue and for a special relationship with Turkey”, which, he said, “does not benefit the efforts for the reunification of Cyprus at all”.

He added that this report “sabotages the democratisation process” in Turkey, as the country would not be obliged to move forward with reforms.

“It is also geopolitically problematic for the EU to get Turkey off the accession path”, noting that this is a merit-based process.

He also disagreed with the amendment proposal tabled by the far-right group Identity and Democracy (ID) to abolish Turkey’s accession path completely.

Social democrat MEP Costas Mavrides (DIKO) said, “Given so many findings of violations of fundamental human rights and the transformation of the judiciary into a tool in the hands of the Erdogan regime and with violations of international and European law in the Eastern Mediterranean, the report does not propose compliance measures, but the opening of negotiations to upgrade the EU – Turkey Customs Union without fulfilling Turkey’s European legal obligations towards the Republic of Cyprus”.

The other S&D MEP, Demetris Papadakis (elected with the EDEK), said “the report contained elements that did not satisfy us” and that a reference “to an arms sales embargo on Turkey as it existed last year” was not included.