EU Parliament calls for the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Cyprus

The European Parliament has called on Turkey to start withdrawing its troops from Cyprus and to show active support for a rapid and successful conclusion to the ongoing negotiations for a settlement to the Cyprus problem.

The EU Parliaments resolution comes as the Cyprus leaders, President Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci along with representatives of the guarantor powers (Greece, Turkey and the UK) are continuing deliberations in Crans Montana, Switzerland, over a Cyprus settlement, under the auspices of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and in the presence of EU High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupying 37% of its territory, while it maintains approximately 40,000 troops on the island.

The European Parliament reiterates its call on Turkey to begin withdrawing its troops from Cyprus and to transfer the sealed-off area of Famagusta to the UN, in accordance with UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 550 (of 1984).

MEPs expressed support to a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem, based on bi-communal and bi-zonal federation, calling on Turkey to show active support for a rapid and successful conclusion to the negotiations and to start withdrawing its troops from Cyprus.

Moreover, the European Parliament warned that Turkey’s EU accession talks should be suspended if proposed changes to the constitution go ahead, as these go against EU membership criteria.

MEPs are concerned about Turkey backsliding in the rule of law, human rights, media freedom, and the fight against corruption.

They condemn the repeatedly declared support for the reintroduction of the death penalty by the Turkish President, which would put into question Turkey’s membership in the Council of Europe and lead to an immediate end of EU accession talks.

Taking note of the outcome of Turkey’s recent referendum and the expansion of presidential powers, the resolution calls on the EU Commission and the EU national governments to formally suspend the accession negotiations with Turkey without delay if the constitutional reform package is implemented unchanged.

They condemn the coup attempt and express their solidarity with the people of Turkey, but at the same time regret the Turkish government’s disproportionate response, resulting in large-scale dismissal of civil servants, the closing of media outlets, the arrest of journalists, judges and human rights defenders, and the closure of schools and universities.

The resolution also recognises the importance of good EU-Turkey relations and maintaining a constructive and open dialogue, which is key to addressing common challenges, such as migration, security or terrorism.

MEPs support upgrading the EU-Turkey Customs Union, asking for human rights and fundamental freedoms to be a part of a new agreement.

The resolution was approved by 477 votes to 64, with 97 abstentions. The Parliament is planning to send an ad-hoc delegation to Ankara in the autumn with the aim of renewing parliamentary dialogue.

Parliament’s rapporteur Kati Piri (SandD, NL) said: this Parliament speaks with one, clear and loud voice in condemning the Turkish government’s serious decline in democratic standards, and continues to support the Turkish population – millions of whom would like to continue to see the EU as an anchor for reforms in their country.

The procedure for suspending EU accession negotiations is set out in article 5 of the Negotiating Framework for Turkey. This stipulates that “in the case of a serious and persistent breach in Turkey of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law on which the Union is founded, the Commission will, on its own initiative or on the request of one third of the Member States, recommend the suspension of negotiations and propose the conditions for eventual resumption”.

Source: Cyprus News Agency