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Media Watch 2005

31 July 2005
Source: Sunday Mail
Author: Stefanos Evripidou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Sunday Mail of Nicosia on 31 July 2005.
‘Deep regret’ over Turkish statement

THE GOVERNMENT yesterday expressed “deep regret” over Turkey’s unilateral declaration stressing Ankara’s refusal to recognise the Republic of Cyprus. The declaration was announced late on Friday night along with the signing of the Ankara protocol, extending Turkey’s customs union to all 25 EU member states.

EU President Britain welcomed the signing, adding the EU Council would examine the terms of the Turkish declaration before giving any further EU response.

Sources close to the EU Presidency said the omission of any statement on Cyprus-flagged ships or aeroplanes was a step in the right direction, given the speculation running up to the signing.

The signing of the protocol was the last remaining precondition for Turkey starting accession negotiations with the EU on October 3. All that remains now is for the EU unanimously to approve a negotiating mandate for the talks, giving Cyprus a powerful veto option.

Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said the government would examine thoroughly the content of the Turkish declaration, “especially whether it puts into question the validity of the signature of the Protocol itself”.

The concern is that the customs union will exist only on paper, and Turkey will fail to take steps to normalise relations with Cyprus “in line with the principle of equal treatment of all member states of the Union”. Cyprus insists that Turkey open its ports, airports and airspace to Cyprus aeroplanes and Cyprus-flagged ships.

The government intends to argue its case before the EU Council, where the 25 member states will decide whether Turkey has fulfilled the specific conditions set out for the opening of accession negotiations.

“It is regrettable, nevertheless, that a candidate for accession declares that it does not recognise one of the member states of the Union it wishes to join. This institutional paradox cannot be sustained,” he said.

In its preliminary response, the British Presidency noted that Turkey issued a declaration “reaffirming, for its part, its long-standing policy on Cyprus” but highlighted that the Republic of Cyprus was the only recognised and official member of the EU under international law.

It welcomed Turkey’s reference to its continued commitment to support the efforts of the UN Secretary-general to bring about a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

“The Presidency agrees that a just and lasting settlement, in line with the principles on which the Union is founded, will contribute to peace, stability and harmonious relations in the region,” it said.

The reaction at home was divided, unsurprisingly, between the government partners and the opposition. Speaker of the House and AKEL President, Demetris Christofias, said Turkey’s stance was unacceptable. “Our opinion is that Turkey continues to have problems with the EU.”

He added that it was up to the EU to decide whether Turkey could start talks on October 3, bearing in mind the recognition or not of Cyprus and implementation in practice of the protocol.

European Party President Demetris Syllouris welcomed the signing and Britain’s reaction to it but called on the EU to put pressure on Turkey to refute the added declaration and implement the protocol.

EDEK leader Yiannakis Omirou was more critical, describing the declaration as “outrageous, unacceptable and provocative”. He wasn’t too happy with the British response to it either and called for an immediate response by the EU, giving the message that Cyprus would not accept Turkey’s avoidance of implementing the smallest of obligations. A lot o work has to be done before the member state permanent representatives meet in Brussels on August 28, he said.

The opposition through DISY deputy Christos Pourgourides criticised the handling of the affair, labelling it a complete failure. Pourgourides blamed the existence of the declaration on the bad climate surrounding Cyprus due to the stalemate on the Cyprus problem and the lack of an initiative from the Greek Cypriot side. He called on the government to comply with the UN’s request to prioritise the list of demands on the Annan plan and better relations with the UN and US.

Presidential Spokesman Marios Karoyan said he was not surprised by the comments of DISY members and the motives behind them.


Turkey declared that the signing, ratification and implementation of the protocol extending its customs union with the EU to the ten new member states, including the Republic of Cyprus, “neither amount to any form of recognition of the Republic of Cyprus referred to in the protocol nor prejudice Turkey’s rights and obligations emanating from the Treaty of Guarantee, the Treaty of Alliance, and the Treaty of Establishment of 1960”.

“The Republic of Cyprus referred to in the protocol is not the original partnership state established in 1960,” it adds, noting that Turkey “will thus continue to regard the Greek Cypriot authorities as exercising authority, control and jurisdiction only in the territory south of the buffer zone, as is currently the case, and as not representing the Turkish Cypriot people and will treat the acts performed by them accordingly”.

In its declaration, Turkey notes that it “remains committed to finding a political settlement of the Cyprus issue and has clearly demonstrated its resolve in this regard”.

“Accordingly, Turkey will continue to support the efforts of the UN Secretary General towards achieving a comprehensive settlement, which will lead to the establishment of a new bizonal partnership state. A just and lasting settlement would greatly contribute to peace, stability and harmonious relations in the region,” it adds.
Furthermore, Turkey “reaffirms that its existing relationship” with the regime in the occupied north “remains unchanged by becoming a party to the protocol”.

Turkey makes clear that pending a comprehensive settlement, the position of Turkey on Cyprus will remain unchanged. “Turkey expresses its readiness to establish relations with the new partnership state, which will emerge following a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus,” it concludes.

Ankara’s declaration, dated July 29, 2005, is signed by Permanent Delegate of Turkey to the EU, Ambassador Ogur Demiralp."