Dutch call on Turkey to respect EU terms

Turkey must open its harbors and airports to Cyprus if it wants to join the European Union, Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot said yesterday following talks with Dora Bakoyannis yesterday. Ankara’s EU orientation is «essential» for both Ankara and the bloc but is also dependent upon clear preconditions, including the approval of a protocol extending Turkey’s customs union with the EU to include Cyprus, Bot said. «Turkey has assumed certain obligations that, at present, it is not fulfilling,» he said. «Like every other candidate country, Turkey is obliged to respond to (these obligations),» Bakoyannis remarked. The Dutch foreign minister expressed strong support for Ankara’s EU bid but stressed «this does not mean that we are blind to the shortcomings laid down in the European Parliament.» Bot was referring to a Parliament report criticizing Turkey for not living up to commitments it made last October when it received the green light for accession talks. A key point of criticism in the report is Turkey’s refusal to give Cyprus access to its air and sea ports. «We opened the door to Turkey in good faith and we believe that mutual trust is a very import element in this relationship,» Bot said. The European Commission is due to release a key report on Turkey’s reform progress on October 24. Bot said he hoped that by then the EU and Turkey «will have found a mutually satisfactory compromise.» Bot and Bakoyannis also discussed Lebanon and Greece’s presidency of the UN Security Council.