‘Europeanize talks in Cyprus, if UN plan fails’

‘Europeanize talks in Cyprus, if UN plan fails’

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
‘Europeanize talks in Cyprus, if UN plan fails’

Guy Verhofstadt, (L) the leader of the Liberal group at the European Parliament, meets with Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek (R) in Ankara yesterday

Liberals of the European Parliament say they will ‘Europeanize’ the Cyprus problem if the U.N.-led talks fail, adding that this is what seems to happen by the end of the year
The European Union should assume a stronger role in resolving the Cyprus conflict, liberal members of the European Parliament said, stressing that the current U.N.-sponsored peace process was heading toward failure.

“We want to see a solution and if the U.N. process does not yield success by the end of the year, we would suggest a new approach with a much stronger role for the EU that would allow us also to exert pressure inside the EU on both sides,” Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, vice chairman of Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) told reporters at a press conference yesterday.

ALDE had meetings with high-ranking Turkish officials including President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, as well as with all parties represented in Parliament and EU Minister Egemen Bağış.

 Lambsdorff said that if the Cyprus negotiations failed under the auspices of the United Nations, they would “Europeanize” the Cyprus problem “to have a stronger role for the EU in this regard.”

“It’s hard to understand why the situation on an island with one-fourth as many inhabitants as Ankara determines the faith of 75 million Turks and 450 million Europeans,” he said.

In the past Turkish officials rejected EU suggestions for Europe to have a stronger role in Cyprus dispute, he said. “That is the traditional position. In one of our conversations, there was clear indication that if the U.N. sponsored talks failed, then we need a completely new approach.”

The leader of ALDE in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, said they believed there were more valid reasons for Turkey’s EU membership today compared to 2004. “This is due to Turkey’s growing economic potential and its crucial strategic position in the region,” Verhofstadt said. They proposed as a group that certain chapters are reopened for negotiations with Turkey, in particular energy chapters, he added.

“European Parliament has to work with positive agenda for 2012 in the relationship between Turkey and the EU,” he said