EP discusses 2016 report on Turkey

The European Parliament discusses today its 2016 report on Turkey, which supports the Commission’s proposal to start negotiations with Turkey on the upgrading of the Customs Union, while at the same time calls on the European Commission and the Member States to formally suspend the accession negotiations with Turkey without delay if the constitutional reform package is implemented unchanged.

With regards to the Cyprus problem, the report, prepared by Dutch MEP Kati Piri (S and D) says that a settlement of the Cyprus problem would have a positive impact on the entire region, while first and foremost benefiting both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. It also welcomes the joint declaration of 11 February 2014 as a basis for a settlement and praises the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities for having achieved major progress in the reunification talks, welcomes the agreement by the two leaders on a series of confidence-building measures and urges that all agreed measures be implemented.

The report also welcomes the exchange of preferred maps, thus far unprecedented, and the first conference on Cyprus held at Geneva with the guarantor powers and with the participation of the EU, and supports its continuation with the aim of reaching a mutually acceptable agreement on the chapter on security and guarantees.

The report also supports a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation, a single international legal personality, single sovereignty and single citizenship with political equality between the two communities, in line with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, international law, the EU acquis, and on the basis of respect for the principles on which the Union is founded.

It welcomes the intensified engagement by the parties to achieve the settlement of the Cyprus problem and notes that the EP expects Turkey to show active support for a rapid and successful conclusion to the negotiations, and reiterates that Turkey’s commitment and contribution to a comprehensive settlement remains crucial.

At the same time it calls on all parties concerned to support the negotiation process actively, to contribute to a positive outcome, and to make use of the current window of opportunity; urges the Commission to use all its resources to support fully the successful conclusion of the reunification process.

Kati Piri’ report on Turkey reiterates its call on Turkey to begin withdrawing its troops from Cyprus, to transfer the sealed-off area of Famagusta to the UN, in accordance with UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 550 (of 1984), and to refrain from actions altering the demographic balance on the island through its policy of illegal settlements.

Also notes that the implementation of the EU acquis in the future Turkish Cypriot constituent state upon the entry into force of the settlement agreement must have already been well prepared for and acknowledges, in this regard, the uninterrupted continuation of the work of the bi-communal ad hoc committee on EU preparation and commits to stepping up its efforts to engage with the Turkish Cypriot community in its preparation to fully integrate into the EU, and calls on the Commission to do the same.

Through the report the EP praises the important work of the Committee on Missing Persons and commends the fact that improved access to relevant sites, including military areas, has been granted, calling at the same time on Turkey to assist the CMP by providing information from its military archives; calls for special consideration to be given to the work done by the CMP and welcomes, in this respect, the appointment of a European Parliament Standing Rapporteur on missing persons.

The report also notes that the EP recognises the right of the Republic of Cyprus to enter into bilateral agreements concerning its exclusive economic zone and reiterates its call on Turkey to respect fully the sovereign rights of all Member States, including those related to prospecting for and the exploitation of natural resources in accordance with the EU acquis and international law and urges Turkey to engage in the peaceful settlement of disputes, and to refrain from any threat or action which might have negative effects on good neighbourly relations.

Speaking at a press conference and invited to comment on the view that a special relationship with Turkey based on economic criteria is being put forward, rapporteur Kati Piri said that the leverage the EU has is not in the accession process which lost its credibility with many of European citizens but also among many citizens in Turkey.

She added that the leverage we have but also the interest we have is also in the economy, in economic cooperation, but also that the Customs Union signed 21 years ago need to be modernized and upgraded which is at the interest of business in Europe but also in the interest of business in Turkey.

She pointed out any modern trade agreement the EU signs it has important components which reflect our values, when it comes to environmental standards, social standards, but also human rights.

So, she added, this Parliament under the condition that the upgraded Customs Union will have clear political benchmarks in it is in favor of upgrading the Customs Union, this is not a special policy towards Turkey.

She also noted that she is aware that the Cypriot government is not in favor of starting the talks regarding the upgrade. We take a different opinion but of course we do agree that by the end it is concluded it has to be of course applicable to all 28 member states, including Cyprus. That speaks for itself she noted.

The report is expected to be voted tomorrow Thursday.

Source: Cyprus News Agency