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No Freeze on Turkey EU Accession - Reports

Markos KyprianouEU foreign ministers have turned down Cyprus' demand to freeze Turkey's EU accession, and have instead issued a statement saying they "note with deep regret that Turkey, despite repeated calls, continues refusing to fulfill its obligation under the so-called Ankara Protocol which extended existing customs privileges to the EU's new member states, including Cyprus."

According to diplomatic sources, earlier today, Cyprus' Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou  demanded a freeze on Turkey's EU accession talks, said a report by German news agency dpa.

The hardline demand reportedly sent the General Affairs Council and Foreign Affairs Council (GAERC) into 'disarray', but the move was withdrawn and instead, Cyprus plans to impose conditions that Turkey would have to comply with before chapters are opened.

"We will be introducing conditions ... so (if) Turkey wants to comply with these conditions, then the (negotiating) chapter will be able to open," Cyprus' Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou said after the conference.

Kyprianou and his Greek counterpart Demetris Droutsas expressed satisfaction over the outcome of the two-day talks at the EU General Affairs Council, saying that "we had quite a few difficulties but we can say that we are satisfied with the result."

He added that his aim to strengthen the wording of the conclusions on Turkey was met and that Turkey would not to pass 'unscathed' by the Council of Ministers.

Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said the Council's conclusions on Turkey’s accession course “strike a right balance” because “they combine an acknowledgment of significant progress achieved for instance concerning the Armenian issue or the Kurdish question with an encouragement of a further enhancement of reforms that improve fundamental freedoms and rule of law in Turkey”. He also said that the “EU accession process between the EU and Turkey is on track”.

EU members are divided on the approach to Turkey's EU accession, with Sweden and the UK in particular advocating a persuasive approach to Turkey with a view to helping reunification talks, and with Greece, Cyprus and France advocating a tougher approach.

"We expect the Council to review progress in the accession negotiations for Turkey...We will support the Council's recognition of the key role Turkey plays in regional security, energy supply, and the promotion of dialogue between civilisations and recent initiatives including addressing the Kurdish issue. However, we will share the Council's disappointment that Turkey has not yet fulfilled its obligation to open its ports to trade with Cyprus under the additional protocol to the association agreement and agree that further efforts are needed to accelerate the pace of Turkey's accession negotiations," said UK Parliamentary Undersecretary Chris Bryant.

Chiefly at stake is Turkey's recognition of the Republic of Cyprus and implementation of the Ankara Protocol which would open Turkey's ports to Cyprus traffic. The EU is pushing for a rapid solution to the Cyprus conflict, fearing that otherwise spring elections in the north of the island could lead to the UBP nationalist party coming into power. The UBP is anti-EU and is determined to strengthen the position of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

The row has already led the EU to freeze talks on eight out of 35 negotiating subjects. As an EU member, Cyprus has veto powers over foreign-policy issues.


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