EU ‘wants’ air traffic agreement with Turkey
Serkan Demirtaş - ANKARA
The European Union has reiterated its willingness to ink a comprehensive aviation agreement with Turkey, particularly after the symbolic inauguration of the new Istanbul Airport, one of the largest airports on the European continent, suggesting it would bring in up to 5 billion euros in additional revenue for the facility.
“Turkey is becoming a key transport center with the new credible airport. Istanbul is the new prime hub. Therefore we encourage the Turkish officials to engage with the EU and to work on a comprehensive Aviation Agreement,” Violetta Bulc, the commissioner responsible for the transportation of the European Commission, told a group of visiting Turkish journalists on Nov 28.
Bulc hailed Turkey’s work for building the Istanbul Airport, which was symbolically inaugurated on Oct. 29. She suggested that an agreement with the EU on the aviation would also increase the capacity of the airport and would bring additional advantages.
With the agreement the revenues of the Istanbul Agreement could have an additional five billion Euros, the ticket prices could be reduced up to 50 percent and additional 48,000 jobs could be generated, the commissioner stated.
Bulc recalled that the EU had done similar aviation agreements with the United States and some Asian states and all resulted in with additional revenues, job and reduced ticket prices for the countries engaging in aviation cooperation with Brussels. Turkey and EU will hold high-level transportation dialogue on Feb. 5 next year with the Turkish Transportation Minister Cahit Turan visiting Brussels, which will include the aviation agreement among other issues.
“We are progressing well but we have to go through the open points. There are a lot of technical issues,” she stated.
Although the aviation cooperation has a technical nature, it also includes political aspects. EU agreement stipulates that any non-EU member country signing this deal should install direct flights to all EU members. In this regard, the Istanbul Airport should provide necessary conditions as a venue for commercial aviation companies to start direct flight to the Greek Cyprus airports.
Turkey does not recognize the Greek Cyprus which constitute the main obstacle in developing ties between Ankara and Brussels, almost in all fields, including full membership talks, trade, transportation and etc.
The continued Cyprus problem that keeps the island divided between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities pushes European Commission to find new formulas to overcome problems in front of cooperation in technical fields. However, as commissioner responsible for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, stated there is a need for a comprehensive political settlement to the five-decade long dispute in order to further endorse Ankara-Brussels ties.
“Cyprus problem should be resolved,” he said, underlining that giving an end to it will introduce new opportunities for Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.