Turkey should recognize and cooperate with all EU member states, FM tells candidate countries during GAC

Turkeys accession course remains deadlocked, and this country has to recognize and cooperate with all the EU Member States, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said during a working lunch of the 28 EU Foreign and European Affairs Ministers, with representatives of candidates countries for EU membership, on the margins of the General Affairs Council (GAC), today in Brussels.

Addressing his counterparts and the representatives of the candidate countries, the Foreign Minister stressed that Turkey, like any other candidate country, should apply its contractual obligations as provided for in the Negotiating Framework, including the full and effective implementation of the Copenhagen criteria, the establishment of good neighbourly relations, the recognition of all Member States and full, effective and non-discriminatory cooperation with all Member States.

During the same working lunch, Minister Kasoulides also noted that the Western Balkans are geographically in Europe and that their future can only be European. In this context, he welcomed the initiative of the upcoming Bulgarian presidency to hold an EU-Western Balkans summit.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs also participated in the General Affairs thematic General Council of Article 50 on brexit. In particular, he stressed that still remains a lot of work until all orderly withdrawal issues are completed, including the issue of British military bases in Cyprus, as reflected in the European Councils April 2017 guidelines. In this context, he pointed out in particular the need to safeguard the rights and interests of EU citizens living or working in the sovereign bases, underlining that these rights should not be affected by the UKs departure form the EU.

He also stressed the importance of unity of 27 for the success of this agreement and the need for the 27 to maintain it, in response to the challenges ahead. Referring to the talks on a transitional period as well as the future EU-UK relationship, Kasoulides highlighted the importance of giving legal clarity and certainty to our citizens and businesses.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs congratulated EU Delegate Michel Barnier and his team on the excellent work that has been achieved, which allows us to move on to the second phase of the negotiations.

During the initial GAC session, the 27 ministers discussed the draft guidelines which they intend to adopt at the next European Council. Earlier, the 28 had adopted the draft agenda for the European Council meeting of 14 and 15 December 2017 and the Commissions legislative programming for 2018.

In his speech on the issue of immigration, the Foreign Minister informed his counterparts of Cypruss intention to grant a financial contribution to support the European Refugee Fund for Africa, which aims to address the root causes of migratory and refugee African continent.

With regard to Security and Defense, the Foreign Minister noted the significant progress made and underlined the importance of maintaining the EUs capacity to act autonomously where necessary.

Finally, with regard to the adoption of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Minister noted that it marks a historic milestone in our ongoing efforts to reach out to citizens, while stressing that we must show determination in its implementation. In addition, Kasoulides said that on the basis of subsidiarity, the EU has a key role to play in the field of Education and Culture, supporting and coordinating the actions and actions of the Member States.

Source: Cyprus News Agency