EU urges Turkey to open its ports

The European Union instructed Turkey yesterday to proceed with its political reforms and to also open up its ports and airports to traffic from Cyprus in order to meet accession commitments. European Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said that by speeding up reforms, Turkey can avoid any negative repercussions in the negotiations process. «There is a sense of urgency and it is now the time more clearly to regain the momentum of reforms that enhance the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms,» said Rehn after talks with Turkey’s chief negotiator Ali Babacan. In October, the EU made Turkey a candidate for membership but said that the accession process could take longer than a decade and gave no guarantee that Ankara would even be able to enter the European club at the end of it. Rehn said the EU expected Turkey to meet its commitments in the Ankara protocol to open its ports and airports this year to Cyprus under an agreement extending EU customs union to 10 new countries that joined the bloc in 2004. «We need to see Turkey respect the commitments it undertook when we opened the accession negotiations,» Rehn added. Turkey has linked the opening of ports to the ending of an economic blockade against Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus. «Our view of what is required… is obviously different from the Commission’s view,» said Babacan.