Turkey must open its ports to the South: Merkel says

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that Turkey must open its ports to South Cyprus.

Turkey signed a protocol in 2005 extending its customs union to EU countries, however it also declared that this agreement did not extend to South Cyprus as it did not recognise the ‘Republic of Cyprus.’ Turkey’s ports and airports remain closed to the South.

When asked how long it would take for Turkey to join the EU, Merkel replied that Turkey had applied in 2005 and the process was open-ended.

“One of the conditions for EU membership is that the candidate country abides by the EU’s common law and value system fully. This applies to Turkey too. Turkey should carry out a new reform process. When Turkey’s accession negotiations started, Turkey promised to fulfil all the requirements regarding the implementation of the Customs Union agreement with all EU member countries including Cyprus. If this condition applies, then it would have a positive impact on the membership process,” she added.

Meanwhile the officials in the South including its EU parliamentarians are trying to advance South Cyprus’ interests in the EU; the main objective is to lift the Turkish embargo on Cypriot flagged ships and aircraft.

Minister of Communications for South Cyprus, Tasos Mitsopoulos said that in April 1987, Turkey imposed restrictions on Cypriot flagged vessels and in May 1997 Ankara issued new orders to extend the restrictions to include ships under a foreign flag which had any relation with the Republic of Cyprus.

He claims that annual losses for the South Cyprus’ economy because of the restrictions amounted to 138.5 million euro in 2008, accounting for 1.3 % of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

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