European Commission calls upon Turkey to fulfill all its Cyprus related obligations, in accession progress report

The European Commission calls upon Turkey to fulfil all its Cyprus related obligations, in the text of the accession progress report, adopted today by the College of Commissioners and presented to the Press in Strasburg.

According to the official text, “Turkey needs to commit itself unequivocally to good neighbourly relations, international agreements, 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 EU has expressed once again serious concern and urged Turkey to avoid any kind of threat or action directed against a Member State, or source of friction or actions that damages good neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes”, reads the report.

The report contains a special chapter describing the recent talks for the resolution of the Cyprus issue, stating that “Turkey continued to express support for the talks on a comprehensive settlement between the leaders of the two communities, and for the efforts of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser”.

However, the report mentions “in March and August Turkey made statements challenging the right of the Republic of Cyprus to exploit hydrocarbon resources in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone for the benefit of all Cypriots”. “The EU has repeatedly stressed the sovereign rights of EU Member States, which include inter alia entering into bilateral agreements and exploring and exploiting their natural resources in accordance with the EU acquis and international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The EU has also stressed the need to respect the sovereignty of Member States over their territorial sea and airspace”, clarifies the European Commission.

The EC states that “as emphasized in the Negotiating Framework and Council declarations, Turkey is expected to actively support the negotiations on a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus issue within the UN framework, in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and in line with the principles on which the EU is founded”.

“Turkey’s commitment and contribution in concrete terms to this comprehensive settlement remains crucial”, warns the Commission and adds that the “process of granting the Committee on Missing Persons full access to all relevant archives and military areas has seen welcome developments but needs to be further expedited”.

Furthermore the reports explains that “despite repeated calls by the Council and the Commission, Turkey has still not complied with its obligations as outlined in the declaration of the European Community and its Member States of 21 September 2005 and in Council conclusions, including those of December 2006 and December 2015. Turkey has not fulfilled its obligation to ensure full and non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement and has not removed all obstacles to the free movement of goods, including restrictions on direct transport links with the Republic of Cyprus”.

“There was no progress on normalizing bilateral relations with the Republic of Cyprus”, according to the report, that also mentions that “Turkey continued to veto applications by the Republic of Cyprus to join several international organizations such as the OECD”.

Furthermore the report mentions that “bilateral exploratory talks were held between Greece and Turkey to find common ground for the start of negotiations on the delimitation of the continental shelf”.

“Greece continued to object to Turkey’s launch of a tender for offshore oil and gas exploration including part of the continental shelf off the Greek island of Castellorizo”, it reads.

“The threat of casus belli in relation to the possible extension of Greek territorial waters, as made in a Turkish Grand National Assembly resolution in 1995, still stands. In line with the Negotiating Framework and previous European Council and Council conclusions, the Council has reiterated 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 EU has again expressed serious concern, and urged Turkey to avoid any kind of threat or action directed against a Member State, or source of friction or actions that damage good neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes. Greece and Cyprus made formal complaints about repeated and increased violations of their territorial waters and airspace by Turkey, including flights over Greek islands”

In the field of aviation, “Turkey is making progress in aligning with the acquis”. “It has expressed interest in a comprehensive aviation agreement including safety issues, adopted implementing legislation on safety assessment of national and foreign aircraft, on passengers with reduced mobility, and on flight and duty time limitations and rest requirements, but no significant progress was made in air operations or aircrew domains”, says the EC.

“The capacity of the Directorate-General for Civil Aviation is not keeping pace with the size and growth of the Turkish civil aviation sector and the revised working arrangement with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), extended to all areas of aviation safety, should be concluded as a matter of priority”.

Turkey is encouraged to become “a full part of the EU aviation system, with special attention to safety, including participation in the management board of EASA and joining the Single European Sky initiative”. Until then EASA cannot perform safety inspections on air traffic management and air navigation services and therefore Turkey’s level of progress in these areas cannot be ascertained. The lack of communication between air traffic control centres in Turkey and Cyprus continues to seriously compromise air safety in the Nicosia flight information region. An operational solution needs to be found urgently to resolve this safety issue.

As long as restrictions remain in place on vessels and aircraft registered in or related to Cyprus or whose last port of call was Cyprus, Turkey will not be in a position to fully implement the acquis relating to this chapter.

According to the report “in the Cyprus v. Turkey case, the issues of missing persons and restrictions on the property rights of Greek Cypriots displaced or living permanently in the northern part of Cyprus are still pending, as is the question of ‘just satisfaction’ (Grand Chamber decision of 12 May 2014)”.

“Since the Demopoulos v. Turkey decision of 5 March 2010, 6 300 applications from Greek Cypriot owners have been lodged with the Immovable Property Commission (IPC), 92 of them between September 2015 and September 2016. In the same period, the IPC ruled to award compensation in 140 cases”, stressed the European Commission.

“As of 29 September 2016, 772 applications have been concluded through amicable settlements and 25 through formal hearings. The IPC has so far paid out the equivalent of EUR 263 million in compensation. In a number of other cases, including Xenides- Arestis v. Turkey, Demades v. Turkey, and Varnava and others v. Turkey, Turkey has yet to fully execute the decisions”, reads the report.

The EC stressed that “Turkey needs to further harmonize its visa policy with the EU common visa policy. Further efforts are needed to align its legislation with the Visa Regulation, Visa Code and other relevant EU legislation”. “This would include aligning Turkish visa requirements with the EU lists of visa-free and visa-required countries, phasing out of the issuing of visas at the borders and of e-visas and ensuring that the issuing of visas at consulates is carried out in line with the conditions and procedures set out in the Visa Code”, says the Commissio. The report mentions that “Turkey continues to apply a discriminatory visa regime towards 11 Member States including the Republic of Cyprus for which the e-visa system refers to the country option Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus”.

Source: Cyprus News Agency