Magazine article Europe-East

Cyprus Slams France for Questioning Turkey's Eu Bid

Magazine article Europe-East

Cyprus Slams France for Questioning Turkey's Eu Bid

Article excerpt

The Cyprus reunification process is inextricably tied up with Turkey's troubled EU membership drive. In its capacity as a member of the Union, Nicosia is trying to use this situation to its benefit by occasionally thwarting Ankara's EU bid. However, it is not in Nicosia's interest to put on halt the entire accession process, provided Turkey does not obstruct the reunification talks.

Despite being irked by Turkey's refusal to implement the Ankara Protocol, which requires the country to open its ports to trade with Cyprus, the Greek Cypriot politicians are in favour of Turkey's accession talks to continue. Criticising France, they argue that Turkey's eligibility for full EU membership should not be called into question as this would have a negative effect on Ankara's efforts to implement pro-European reforms.

"The incentive of accession becomes weaker when Ankara is not certain that it will finally join the EU," Cyprus Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou said when asked to comment on the French opposition to Turkey's EU membership. "Our approach to Turkey is different from that of France," he added, stressing that in contrast to Paris, "we do not block any chapter in an absolute way".

"There is a difference between chapters frozen by France and by Cyprus," Kyprianou explained. "In our case, it is really up to Turkey to open these chapters," he added, suggesting that if Ankara fully meets its obligations the blockage will be immediately lifted.

According to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Turkey - a predominantly Muslim country - is not eligible for full membership of the EU, as a majority of its territory is located in Asia rather than in Europe. An enhanced or so-called privileged' partnership is therefore suggested by the Elysee Palace as the best form of future relations between Turkey and the EU.

To put its plan in practice, France decided to block the opening of five chapters "directly related to Turkish accession". One of them has already been frozen due to the French veto. Last year, Paris said that talks on economic and monetary policy should commence only after the EU reconsiders its stance on Turkey while defining its future borders. If France continues its obstructive tactics, five new chapters, covering financial and institutional matters, could be added to the list of areas which are currently blocked due to Ankara's failure to fully comply with its obligations towards Cyprus.

Turkey started entry talks with the European Union in 2005. In December 2006, the EU decided to temporarily freeze eight out of 35 negotiating chapters in talks with Turkey due to its failure to implement the Ankara Protocol. To date, Turkey has been refusing to establish economic and diplomatic relations with Cyprus. …

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