The Spokesman dismissed criticism that the government has given the green light to Turkey for an obstacle-free European accession course, noting that some of the interpretations of government policy on the matter are not correct and can only be understood as a pre-electioneering tactics.
Stephanou, who was referring to statements on Turkish EU accession course made on Wednesday by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Cypriot President Demetris Christofias said that the support which Cyprus expresses for Turkey’s full accession to the EU is not a blank cheque.
“We support Turkey’s full accession to the EU, on condition that Turkey meets its obligations which derive from the Copenhagen criteria. As far as the Cyprus question is concerned, we say that we back Turkey’s membership on condition that it ends its occupation of Cyprus’ northern part and respect the independence, the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus,” the Spokesman added.
He added that if Turkey does not terminate the occupation of Cyprus and does not fulfill the Copenhagen criteria, then it will not be possible for Ankara to join the EU.
Stephanou noted that for the time being, Turkey, on the basis of the 2006 European Council conclusions and the joint declaration of the EU member states in 2005, the Additional Protocol of the Ankara Protocol must be implemented in practice and not just in words.
Turkey, he pointed out, must cooperate to achieve progress and a settlement of the Cyprus question, on the basis of the 1977 and 1979 High Level Agreements, the relevant UN resolutions and international and European law principles.
“We want Turkey to help itself, to take all the necessary decisions and initiatives to implement its obligations and contribute to efforts to reach a settlement,” he stressed and explained that any references to the right of veto relate to the overall accession course of Turkey to the EU and the strategy which Cyprus and Greece develop to help efforts to reach a Cyprus settlement.
Stephanou said that in view of the assessment of Turkey’s progress in December, Greece and Cyprus have decided to continue coordination and consultation between them and with their European partners, so as to take the necessary decisions at the right time, noting that “surely the right time to take these decisions is not the current period”.
The Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied one third of its territory. Turkey which aspires to become an EU member state does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September last year, with a view to solve the question of Cyprus.
Financial Mirror, April 24, 2009