"Red Card" to Turkey 29 Jun 2006 10:25:00 (Last updated: 29 Jun 2006 13:24:47)
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Turkey’s unwavering stance with regard to the Customs Union Protocol prompted the EU25 to block its accession talks.
The EU Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) decided Wednesday to call off, at least for the time being, Turkey’s accession talks, under the premise that Turkey’s refusal to open its port and airports to Cyprus is an indicator that Turkey does not meet the necessary prerequisites that would allow the EU to bypass the stage of monitoring the Turkish legislation and move on to the next, namely the official membership talks.
In his statements, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn did not rule out suspending Turkey’s accession talks "if there are grounds for that." He further pointed out that he hopes the EU does not have to resort to that, adding that such a development could be averted provided that Turkey honours it commitments towards Cyprus and speed up reforms. Mutual blackmails will not contribute to the solution of the Cyprus issue, argued Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul from Moscow. He further added that the Cyprus issue should not stall Turkey’s course to the EU and that the European Union cannot lift restrictions for one side and keep applying them for the other.
Implementing the Ankara Protocol is a Prerequisite
The European Union cannot lift restrictions for one side and keep applying them for the other, the Turkish Foreign Minister added. All the same, Ankara was given the green light for the opening of talks for the chapter on competition policy.
On its part, Finland, which will be at the helm of the EU Presidency as of July 1, stated that it will give its best shot lest Turkey’s EU membership talks should fall flat. In his statements, Finnish FM Erkki Tuomioja declared that unless Turkey recognizes Cyprus as an EU member by the end of the year, the talks will "freeze."
Speaking on Turkish television network NTV, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis requested the Customs Union Protocol be extended to Cyprus as well, underlining that Turkey undertook certain obligations towards the EU because it wishes to join the big European family. Implementing the Ankara Protocol, which provides for free movement of goods of all EU member states, including Cyprus, is one of them, added Ms Bakoyannis.
In his interview with a German paper, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier reiterated that Turkey is obliged to honour the commitments it has undertaken and open its ports and airports to Cyprus, directly connecting the above issue with the need for a EU economic aid to the Turkish-Cypriots and clearly including free trade transactions between the EU and "Northern Cyprus."
On his part, Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at the European Council in a discussion dedicated to freedom of expression and religious beliefs, he stated that Islamophobia is winning ground in the Western countries and that it should be rates as a crime against humanity, exactly as anti-Semitism.