Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Turkey Does not Understand What it Means to be a Candidate Country for EU Membership

Turkey does not understand what it means to be a candidate country for EU membership, Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis has said, clarifying at the same time, that Ankara’s commitments to EU member states, including the Republic of Cyprus, are not negotiable.

...Replying to questions, she said Cyprus has made representations about Turkey’s explorations within Cyprus’ EEZ by Turkish seismographic vessel Piri Reis and the Norwegian research vessel 'Bergen Surveyor”, adding that Cyprus has made representations both to the Norwegian and the French governments since a French company is also involved in cooperating with the Norwegian company.

She said that these representations are primarily addressed to the UN and the Security Council, “which we constantly keep updated with all developments,'' he said.

Asked to comment on Turkish newspaper Sabah reports according to which Turkey has proposed to Cyprus opening the port of Mersin to Cyprus-flagged ships in exchange of opening a chapter in its accession process which remains closed due to the Cyprus problem, Marcoullis said that this is a very old proposal.

“Things are clear. In 2004 the EU demanded that Turkey signs and implements the Ankara Protocol, which requires the opening of all Turkish ports and airports to Cyprus. There is no question of negotiating,” she said.

Of course, she continued, ''Turkey is known for haggling, but it must understand that the EU is not an issue for negotiation. It is a matter of specific rules and procedures which each candidate country must follow. ''

Asked to comment on statements by Turkish Minister Responsible for Europe who described the Greek Cypriot side as the Trojan Horse of Israel on the issue of natural gas, the Minister said that such statements prove that Turkey has not realized what it means to be a candidate country for EU membership.

She said that ''the candidate country must adapt to the EU and not the other way around. It seems, ''she added,'' they have not understood this very basic element which governs the relations of all candidates with no exception, irrespective of the difficulties they face.”

“The road to EU membership is not an easy one, it is difficult and requires difficult and serious decisions,'' she said.

Turkey, she said, has to decide if it wants to proceed at all costs, adding that it will also have to pay a political cost since it should certainly recognize the Republic of Cyprus, meet its commitments to the EU and implement the Ankara Protocol.

In conclusion she said that this road is not determined by Turkey but by the EU and if Turkey wants to move on then it should follow this precise path.

Turkish troops occupy Cyprus’ northern part since they invaded in 1974. Ankara does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus.

Drilling in Cyprus’ EEZ has begun and is being carried out by Houston-based “Noble Energy”, off Cyprus’ south-eastern coast.

Following Nicosia's decision to begin drilling in its EEZ, Ankara has deployed warships in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The government of Cyprus has protested to the UN and the EU Turkey’s moves, saying it has a sovereign right to exploit its natural resources, pointing out that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will benefit from any benefits that may come from oil drilling.

Cyprus has signed an agreement to delineate the Exclusive Economic Zone with Egypt and Israel with a view to exploit any possible natural gas and oil reserves in its EEZ. A similar agreement has been signed with Lebanon but the Lebanese Parliament has not yet ratified it.
Famagusta Gazette

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