BRUSSELS SEEKS WAYS TO KEEP EU-TURKEY TALKS AFLOAT
EU-Turkey News Network
Sept 6 2006
In a bid to keep EU-Turkey talks from derailing completely, Brussels
is considering ways of putting off dealing with the thorny Cyprus
question until after Turkish elections next year.
The Financial Times reports that enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn
is seeking to put the nub of the issue – access to Turkey ports and
airports by Cyprus – before the European Court of Justice.
This would effectively defer the question until next year and after
Turkey has been through its parliamentary elections.
Member states have given Turkey until the end of this year to open
its ports to Cyprus but Ankara has refused to do so until the EU
makes good on a promise to end the isolation of Turkish Cypriots in
the northern part of the island.
The EU insists that the two issues are not linked resulting in a
stalemate which analysts suggest will be almost impossible to get
out of before Turkey’s elections.
The FT quotes a senior commission official as saying "We need a plan
B to limit the damage and avoid a complete suspension of negotiations,
because that would kill the momentum."
"We have to find ways and means to muddle through until after the
But diplomats quoted by the paper suggest that neither side would be
in favour of the court option with Turkey likely to lose any legal
battle on the issue and Cyprus likely to be unhappy that Ankara would
no longer be under pressure to act this year.
The tone between Brussels and Ankara has considerably hardened in
recent months with the EU feeling that Turkey has slowed down its
reform process and Ankara feeling that the bloc is not serious about
having it as a member.
On Monday (5 September) there was once again a hard exchange of words
after MEPs passed a tough report on Turkey in which they complained
about its lack of progress on human rights and called on Turkey to
recognise the massacre of Armenians in the first world war as genocide.
Responding to the parliament’s report, prime minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan pointed out that it is not binding and said that the parliament
is dreaming if it thinks it would change its stance on the Armenia
"Our position regarding the so-called Armenian genocide is very clear,
and nobody should expect us to change it."
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress