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Nicosia applauds EU call on Turkey to be a better neighbor

TAGS: Cyprus, Turkey

Cypriot Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides on Wednesday expressed his appreciation for a report by the European Union’s General Affairs Council calling on Turkey to be a better neighbor.

Christodoulides, who attended a meeting of EU ministers, appeared to be in favor of sending a positive message towards EU candidate countries, but with the principle of conditionality applying across the board.

In reference to a decision to start accession talks with Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) next summer, Christodoulides said that Cyprus supports the Western Balkan nations’ European aspirations, adding that any positive message to this end should be compatible with the EU principle of conditionality and ought to be applied to the accession process of all candidate countries.

Regarding Turkey, Christodoulides said the document’s conclusions reflect the concerns of all member-states regarding the country’s accession path.

“Cyprus supports the full membership of Turkey into the European Union,” said the minister, provided that Turkey fulfills all its obligations towards the Republic of Cyprus.

This support is also contingent upon Ankara complying with EU suggestions on human rights and the rule of law in that country, Christodoulides added.

“The Council continues to expect Turkey to unequivocally commit to good neighborly relations, international agreements and to the peaceful settlement of disputes, having recourse, if necessary, to the International Court of Justice,” said the report.

The EU ministers also agreed that Turkey should remain committed to a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus and made specific suggestions.

“Turkey must avoid threats and actions that damage good neighborly relations, normalize its relations with the Republic of Cyprus and respect the sovereignty of all EU member-states over their territorial sea and airspace as well as all their sovereign rights, including inter alia the right to explore and exploit natural resources, in accordance with EU and international law, including UNCLOS,” it said.

The conclusions also reiterated the EU's strong condemnation of the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey and expressed solidarity with the Turkish people.

“However, the disproportionate scale and scope of measures taken in its aftermath raise serious concern,” the report noted.

“The Council recalls the international standards and the obligations to which Turkey has subscribed and committed itself, and calls on Turkey to urgently reverse the negative trends.”

Finally, the conclusions reiterated the council’s view that Turkey was moving further away from the European Union.

“Turkey's accession negotiations have therefore effectively come to a standstill and no further chapters can be considered for opening or closing and no further work towards the modernization of the EU-Turkey Customs Union is foreseen.”

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