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Media Watch 2005

20 April 2005
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Myria Andoniadou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 20 April 2005.
Britain blocks EU missive on Turkey
"BRITAIN, followed by Italy, yesterday blocked the “common position” which the EU was going to issue at the Association Council with Turkey... "

BRITAIN, followed by Italy, yesterday blocked the “common position” which the EU was going to issue at the Association Council with Turkey next week, an outcome that may even lead to its cancellation.

The issue will be taken up by the Permanent Representatives (COREPER) tomorrow and if they do not manage to reach agreement it will be referred to the Foreign Ministers, who have a Council in Luxembourg on Monday.

If the 25 don’t manage to come up with a common position then they will have to postpone the Association Council, which deals with the customs union agreement and is scheduled for next Tuesday.

Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, a British official said London disagrees with the proposed text for two reasons. Firstly, it believes a reference that Turkey has not only to sign but “subsequently implement” the protocol extending the Ankara Agreement (customs union) goes beyond what the heads of state had decided last December.

The second sticking point for the British is that the text refers to the need for Turkey to normalise its relations with all member states, but goes on to call for the establishment of bilateral relations with all 25, including Cyprus.

Britain does not consider normalisation of relations a problem but believes this reference goes too far and is politically tied to settlement procedures. It would be wrong to bring it into the Association Council, the official said.

The common position pleased Nicosia as, for the first time, it refers to normalisation of relations between Cyprus and Turkey.

According to sources, it also calls upon Turkey to lift its restrictions to trade and transport, which practically means allow Cyprus-flagged ships to dock at its ports, and stop blocking Cyprus’ participation in international organisations.

Sources said there will be no dire repercussions if the Association Council is cancelled nor will the start of accession talks (October 3) be affected. It will send out strong political messages, though.

This time, however, it was not Nicosia blocking. The common position was to be agreed by the so-called “silent procedure” which means all 25 were given the text and if no-one raised reservations until a specific time it is considered as agreed.
Britain and Italy “broke the silence”."