NEWS

EU chiefs pressure Turkey on Cyprus

As European leaders increased pressure on Ankara to fulfill its obligations as an EU candidate state or risk undermining its bid to join the bloc, an internal EU document obtained by Kathimerini highlighted the Commission’s concerns about the excessive influence of Turkey’s military authorities in politics. Ankara’s EU-related obligations, including the opening of Turkish ports and airports to Cypriot vessels and aircraft, «are non-negotiable and must simply be implemented,» Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, whose country heads the EU’s rotating presidency, told the European Parliament yesterday. Schuessel was echoed by EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, who told the Parliament’s foreign affairs committee that Turkey was obliged «to keep its word» and open its ports to Cyprus if it wants to avoid «serious problems» in the fall. Rehn added that he was «concerned that (Turkey’s) reform process has lost its momentum.» Meanwhile, an internal EU document obtained by Kathimerini reveals that the EC has made several appeals to Ankara to curb the influence of Turkey’s powerful military on political affairs. The document, a report prepared by the Netherlands-based Center for European Security Studies, noted that Turkey’s armed forces chief does not report directly to the defense minister, as should be the case, but to the prime minister. The report also noted the lack of transparency in army-owned enterprises.