Turkey must open its sea and airports to Cyprus: EU

The EU has called on Turkey to implement the Additional or ‘Ankara’ Protocol, which would require the Turkish government to remove all obstacles which discriminate against Cyprus as a member state, ‘Cyprus Mail’ reports.

Turkey’s closure to the South’s air and sea traffic is a major aspect of the protocol and has, since 2006, held up progress on eight chapters required for Turkey to process its EU accession.

Cyprus also raised the discrimination against its citizens travelling to Turkey, which has excluded the Cyprus Republic as an EU member state in its options for online applications, using instead the ‘Greek Cypriot Administration in Southern Cyprus’.

On Monday, following the latest meeting of the EU-Turkey Association Council, a statement from the council said that although it had noted the clear statement of Turkey’s commitment to the accession process, the EU had made its position clear on the non-implementation of the protocol.

“Full non-discriminatory implementation towards all EU member states is an obligation and as such must be honoured,” the statement read.

Further, the EU reiterated its call for progress on the issue, and had underlined that such implementation could provide a significant boost to the Cyprus negotiations process, which resumed on 11th February.

The statement said that the EU also welcomed the resumption of Cyprus talks. “Turkey’s commitment and contribution in concrete terms to such a comprehensive settlement remains crucial,” it said.

“The EU also reiterated its position on good neighbourly relations and stressed again that maintaining good neighbourly relations is an essential part of the accession process.”

The Council meeting was chaired by Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, whose country currently holds the six monthly EU presidency until the end of this month. Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule represented the European Commission while Turkey was represented by European Affairs Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

In a written statement after the meeting, Fule said there had been a good exchange of views.

“I stressed also today that it is important to sustain the momentum in the accession negotiations in the interest of both parties and in order to achieve real and tangible results,” said Fule.

He said he had also emphasised 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, Fule said.

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