Turkey rebuffs Cyprus link to new EU chapters

Turkey rebuffs Cyprus link to new EU chapters

Turkey rebuffs Cyprus link to new EU chapters

Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoğlu (L) holds a press conference with his Irish counterpart Eamon Gilmore (C), and European Commissioner Stefan Füle in Brussels.

Turkey has rebuffed the European Union which offered to turn its “one-flower policy” into a "flourishing garden" of several chapters, if Turkey fulfills its obligation to fully implement measures that would open its ports to all EU members, including Greek Cyprus.

A Foreign Ministry official, speaking on the condition anonymity, told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday that there was no change in Turkey’s Cyprus stance and that Ankara did not see the Cyprus issue as a problem in the negotiation process with the bloc.

The statement from Brussels came after Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said more than one flower was necessary for spring, referring to the opening of only Chapter 22 on regional policy and the coordination of structural instruments.

Davutoğlu made the comments in a press conference at the meeting of the 51st EU-Turkey Association Council, attended by Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle. Chapter 22 is set to be the first chapter opened by Ankara in three years.

Under the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement, Turkey must open its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot ships and planes.

“Seventeen [of the 35 negotiating chapters] are blocked for political reasons. We have to unblock this process because at this rate, it will take 50 years to finish. When the world is changing, we need more dynamic relations between Turkey and the EU,” the foreign minister said, criticizing the EU’s pace on negotiations.

Responding to Davutoğlu’s speech, Füle underlined the bloc’s determination to implement the additional protocol by Turkey to all member states. “I have also underlined that the implementation of the Additional Protocol would inject new life into the accession process. Several chapters could be opened and some even closed relatively quickly. In relation to this, we could turn this ‘one-flower policy’ Minister Davutoğlu was mentioning in the context of the possibility to open one chapter soon, into a flourishing garden of several chapters,” Füle said.

‘Two separate issues’

The Foreign Ministry said Davutoğlu pointed out that Cyprus and the membership process were two separate issues and there was divergence on the implementation of the protocol. Davutoğlu also called for talks on the external relations chapter, saying it was time for a new “strategic perspective in our relations.”

“Without Turkey, the EU will not be complete, it will not have strategic or geographic continuity,” he said. Echoing Füle’s statements, the bloc also said the EU noted with deep regret that Turkey, despite repeated calls, continued to refuse to fulfill its obligation to fully implement the Additional Protocol toward all member states.

“The EU underlined that meeting this obligation could provide a significant boost to the negotiation process,” it said. The bloc, however, praised Turkey’s reform process, with Füle saying he welcomed the current momentum in the accession negotiations.