|Wednesday, 13 December 2017|
Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 09-03-12
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 TURKEY PROGRESS REPORT EP DEBATEMembers of the European Parliament have questioned seriously Turkeys commitment to reforms in its course for accession to the European Union.
Doubts as to Ankaras commitment were raised during a debate on Wednesday on Turkeys progress report 2008 which is expected to be approved later Thursday.
The report drafted by Dutch EPP-ED member Ria Oomen-Ruijten calls on Turkey to withdraw its occupation troops from Cyprus and allow the leaders of the two communities on the island to negotiate freely.
It urges Ankara to prove its political will for the reform process, noting that for Turkey and its 71 million people the main concern is the slowdown in reform for the third successive year.
In the chapter of building good neighbourly relations, the report stresses the need for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question. based on UN Security Council resolutions and on the principles on which the European Union is founded.
It welcomes the renewed commitment of both political leaders on both sides to a negotiated solution and supports the ongoing direct negotiations by the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus and will accept any agreement reached by them provided that it is in conformity with the principles on which the EU is founded, including the four fundamental freedoms, and that it is accepted after a referendum.
Furthermore, it calls on Turkey to facilitate a suitable climate for negotiations by withdrawing Turkish forces and allowing the two leaders to negotiate freely their countrys future.
The report notes that Turkey has still not implemented the provisions stemming from the EC-Turkey Association Agreement and the Additional Protocol, even though four negotiating chapters were opened in 2008.
It says that it is concerned to see in Turkey, for the third consecutive year, a continuous slowdown of the reform process, and calls on the Turkish government to prove its political will to continue the reform process to which it committed itself in 2005; stresses that such modernisation is first and foremost in Turkeys own interest and for the benefit of Turkish society as a whole.
The report conveys its concern by the ongoing polarisation within Turkish society and between the main political parties, which has deepened in the course of 2008 and has negatively affected the functioning of the political institutions and the process of reforms,
It stresses that political reforms are at the heart of the reform process, and welcomes the fact that the Turkish government prepared and approved the National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis;
It also urges the leaders of the political parties to seriously seek dialogue and to agree, in a spirit of compromise, on a reform agenda for the modernisation of Turkey towards a stable, democratic, pluralist and prosperous society, guided by respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and based on the rule of law.
As far as fulfilling the Copenhagen Criteria, the report expresses regret that the initial effort to reform comprehensively the constitution resulted in dispute over the headscarf issue and generated further polarisation of society.
It further regrets that no progress has been made on establishing full systematic civilian supervisory functions over the military and on strengthening the parliamentary oversight of military and defence policy.
As far as human rights and respect for, and protection of minorities is concerned, the report regrets that freedom of expression and freedom of the press are still not fully protected in Turkey.
The report reiterates its call for the immediate re-opening of the Greek Orthodox Halki Seminary and the public use of the ecclesiastical title of the Ecumenical Patriarch;
It calls on the Turkish government to launch as a matter of priority a political initiative favouring a lasting settlement of the Kurdish issue, which initiative needs to address the economic and social opportunities of citizens of Kurdish origin, and to tangibly improve their cultural rights,
Furthermore, it calls on the Turkish government to seek solutions to preserve the bicultural character of the Turkish islands Imvros and Tenedos, and to address the problems encountered by members of the Greek minority with regard to their education and property rights;
On the ability to take on the obligations of membership, the report regrets that a number of commitments made by Turkey within the EC-Turkey customs union remain unfulfilled, distorting bilateral trade relations;
It regrets that the EC-Turkey Association Agreement and the Additional Protocol thereto have not yet been implemented fully by the Turkish government and recalls that the non-fulfillment of Turkeys commitments by December 2009 may further seriously affect the process of negotiations.
It also appreciates the continued efforts of the Turkish and Greek governments to improve bilateral relations
On behalf of the Czech presidency, Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs, Alexandr Vondra underlined Turkeys obligations towards EU member state Cyprus, noting that «as far as EU-Turkey relations are concerned, it is clear that Turkey needs to fullfill its obligation of full, non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol. This is an important issue, as highlighted in your report, and should be addressed as soon as possible as it clearly affects the pace of the accession negotiations. Issues covered by the declaration of 21 September 2005 will continue to be followed up, and progress is urgently awaited».
During the debate, Enlargment Commissioner Olli Rehn, despite his statement «there is a unique chance this year to reunite the island and bring an end to this long standing conflict on a European soil. It is essential that Turkey proactively supports the ongoing settlement talks between the two leaders of the two communities on Cyprus», the majority of MEPs expressed the view that for there to be a mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem, Turkey should remain outside the procedure of the UN talks.
The Commissioner said I think it is absolutely essential that we support the talks of the two leaders and of the two communities that are going on for the moment so that we could indeed seize the opportunity of 2009, to achieve a comprehensive settlement and, of course, we expect that Turkey will contribute to a favourable political climate to achieve such a settlement.
The Czech Deputy Prime Minister told the debate that from the point of view of the EU, it is important to ensure that any solution is in line with the Unions founding principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law.
He said the EU, in other words, can support any such solution that creates a united Cyprus respecting the principles upon which the EU is founded and is able to carry the obligations of EU membership. This clearly implies a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant resolution of the UN Security Council».
Cypriot AKEL MEP Adamos Adamou said that Turkey ought to comply with all its obligations towards the EU just like all other former EU candidate member states have done.
He recalled that Turkey repeatedly refuses to comply with opening its ports and airports to Cyprus flagged ships and planes and vetoes Cyprus participation in international organizations and continues to occupy part of Cyprus, violating international law.
Cypriot Euro MP Kyriacos Triantafyllides congratulated Rehn on his statement that it is important for Turkey to actively support the ongoing talks between the two leaders in Cyprus and for this reason we fully agree with the view in paragraph 40 by the rapporteur calling on Turkey to facilitate a suitable climate for negotiations by withdrawing Turkish forces and allowing the two leaders to negotiate freely their countrys future.
He also said it would not be useful at the time, for the European Parliament to incorporate in the report any proposals for deviation from the acquis.
Speaking on behalf of the European Peoples Party, Bernd Posselt said that Turkey is not a European country but a country that is part of Asia and supported a strategic partnership with the country instead of full accession.
 PRESIDENT TALKS- STATEMENTSCyprus President Demetris Christofias has expressed hope that discussions on European Union matters, in the context of the ongoing UN-led direct negotiations, will have a positive outcome.
In statements after his 22nd meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, in the framework of the direct negotiations aiming to solve the Cyprus problem, and asked whether or not the discussion on EU matters would have a better outcome than the discussion on the issue of properties, Christofias said that this is what we have always hoped for and aim at.
Asked to comment on the outcome of todays meeting, President Christofias referred journalists to the statement after the meeting, by Alexander Downer, the UN Secretary Generals Special Adviser on Cyprus.
I think the statement made by Mr. Downer is clear. We still have a long way to go, he said.
 CYPRUS EUROPEAN CONFERENCE ON AVIATION SAFETYCyprus will host, for the first time, the annual European Conference on Aviation Safety organised by Eurocontrol, the Flight Safety Foundation and European Regional Airlines, with the support of Cyprus government.
The meeting will take place next week, between March 17 - 18.
According to an official announcement issued here today, the Minister of Communications and Works Nicos Nicolaides will open the conference on Tuesday, in Nicosia. A joint press conference by all the hosts will follow.
 CYPRUS RALLY STARTSThe 2009 Cyprus Rally starts tonight at Spyros Kyprianou athletic centre in the southern coastal town of Limasol.
After two years of participating in the Middle East Rally Championship (MERC), this year the Cyprus Rally will again be part of the World Rally Championship (WRC), as Round 3 of the WRC Calendar.
The start of the rally will be given tonight by House President Marios Garoyian in the presence of Ministers, MPs and other officials. After the opening ceremony a concert will follow with popular Greek singer Sakis Rouvas.
The Cyprus Rally race part takes place from 13-15 March, with the participation of 35 teams and is organised by the Cyprus Automobile Association (CAA).
Regarding the starting order, in car number 1 will be defending World Rally Champion, 2009 Championship leader, and winner of the last three WRC Cyprus Rally events, Sebastien Loeb, in his Citroen Total World Rally Team C4.
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