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Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 06-11-09

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>




    Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas has described the European Commission progress report on Turkey as positive, noting that it reflects to a great extent the reality regarding Ankaras accession course.

    He said that he did not think there would be any significant developments to make Turkey change its stance before the December European Council.

    In statements before departing for the Vatican, to accompany Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos on his visit there, Lillikas said that if the EU does not send Ankara a clear message, then the Unions credibility might be at stake and it would not be able to keep Turkey on the right track to meet its EU obligations.

    We believe the progress report is positive. It reflects the reality regarding Turkeys refusal to meet the obligations towards all EU 25 member states, he said.

    On European optimism that Turkey will make steps before the December Council, Lillikas said that he does not share the same optimism, but hopes developments will prove him wrong.

    Responding to questions, he said the government has worked closely with the Finnish EU presidency and hopes that its initiative to avert a Euro - Turkish crisis would bear fruit.

    ``Creating a crisis in EU-Turkish relations is not an end in itself as far as we are concnerend. On the contrary, we support Turkeys EU course, but not unconditionally, he noted.

    He said that if Turkey meets its obligations, it would continue its accession course, otherwise there will be consequences.

    Lillikas said that Cyprus, being an EU member, had the right to veto which it has exercised on three different occasions, relating to three negotiating chapters in Turkey`s membership talks.

    We want Turkey to become a member of the European family, but we do not want Turkey as it is today joining the Union. We want a reformed Turkey, in line with EU norms, with a democratic regime, respecting all human rights, the territorial integrity of all EU member states and international and European law, he said.

    Asked whether the US mid-term elections could have an impact on Cyprus, Lillikas said that Nicosia has developed in the past few years good relations with the Democrats and the Republicans, adding that the government will seek contact with all elected senators and congressmen.

    He congratulated elected US congressmen of Greek and Cypriot origin, hoping that the good relations that exists with these people would continue to yield results.

    Referring to his visit in the Vatican, he said that it has a political importance.

    It takes place ahead of the Popes visit to Turkey, and we shall raise some issues, such as the destruction of Greek Orthodox and Catholic churces in Turkish occupied Cyprus, hoping that he will make a decisive intervention, he said.

    The Minister was also invited to comment on information that Kurds will demonstrate in front of Cypriot embassies around Europe accusing the government of abusing Kurds living in Cyprus.

    The information we have is that we are dealing here with fringe Kurdish organizations that do not express the overall feelings of the Kurdish people towards Cyprus, he said.

    Lillikas added that the people of Cyprus have always supported the rights of the Kurdish people and have shown great understanding to those living in Cyprus.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third.

    Turkey, a country aspiring to become an EU member state, does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus and refuses to implement the EU-Turkey Customs Union Protocol, by opening its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels and aircraft.


    Prospects for a change in Turkey`s stance towards Cyprus are rather slim, Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashiardes has said, adding that Nicosia does not expect a ``pleasant surprise`` from Ankara by moving away from its long-standing intransigent positions.

    At the same time, Pashiardes stressed that Cyprus is not rejoicing in the European Commission progress report on Turkey, which is critical of the country`s efforts to align itself with EU norms.

    ``Ankara is the only obstacle to the normal and unhindered accession course and has now a time framework of a few weeks to prove in practice that it does meet its obligations," he added.


    British Minister of State for Europe Geoff Hoon has urged Turkey to meet its EU obligations towards all Union member-states. He warned that if Ankara fails to do so, the EU must act in accordance with its counterstatement of 21 September 2005 to the Turkish unilateral declaration of not recognising the Republic of Cyprus.

    Turkey must implement its obligation to all member-states. If it fails to do so, the EU must act in accordance with its declaration of 21 September 2005. But to speculate on such activity before the Commission has provided its recommendation is premature, Hoon noted.

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