Ahtisaari calls on EU to take responsibility in Turkey-Cyprus dispute

Ahtisaari said the Turkey-Cyprus dispute threatened to undermine Europe's credibility.

Ahtisaari calls on EU to take responsibility in Turkey-Cyprus dispute

Finding a solution to the frozen conflict between Turkey and Cyprus is crucial to unblocking Ankara's stalled EU accession talks, Former Finnish president said on Tuesday.

Former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari said the longstanding territorial row was a major cause of delay in Turkey's drive to join the 27-member bloc.

Cyprus talks had started on September 11, 2008, and first round was completed on August 6, 2009.

Decades long armed attacks on the defenseless Turkish Cypriots culminated in 1974 when an Athens-backed Greek Cypriot military coup on the island led to Turkey's intervention based on its rights stemming from guarantorship agreement.

Cyprus joined the EU as a divided island when Greek Cypriots in the south rejected the UN reunification plan in twin referendums in 2004 even though the Turkish Cypriots in the north overwhelmingly supported it.

The promise made by EU foreign ministers before the referendums to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots and establish direct trade with north Cyprus remains unfulfilled.

"The urgency is in the Cyprus issue," Ahtisaari told Reuters during an interview. "That is what is causing delays in the Turkey negotiation process."

Ahtisaari, in Stockholm to present a report on Turkey's drive to join the EU, called on member states to take responsibility in the Turkey-Cyprus dispute, saying it threatened to undermine Europe's credibility.

Ahtisaari said the EU's reputation could suffer if it proved unable to resolve conflicts in its own backyard: "If we can't on our soil solve this sort of nearly eternal, frozen conflict, then how can we play a role in global issues?"

"Report's warnings"

The report published on Monday said European Union leaders must play fair with Turkey in its EU membership talks to help break a vicious circle that threatens to derail Ankara's hopes of joining.

"These negative attitudes and policies of European leaders are in clear contradiction to all previous EU decisions and commitments," said the report
France, Germany and Austria are among the countries that object to Turkey having full membership of the EU, proposing instead a privileged partnership. Especially, France is blocking another five chapters directly linked to EU membership.

"European governments must honour their commitments and treat Turkey with fairness and the respect it deserves," said the commission.

The report said such proposals had contributed to a fall in support for EU accession among Turks and created the impression in Turkey that it would never be able to join the bloc.

"Lack of faith in a positive outcome of the accession process demotivates Turkish leaders and means the population puts less pressure on them to carry out the necessary reforms, which in turn feeds the arguments of Turkey-sceptics in the EU," the report said.

Calling for an end to this "vicious circle", it said: "This will require a change of attitude of both European and Turkish leaderships."

Apart from former Finnish President Ahtisaari, it includes former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard, former Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek and former Spanish Foreign Minister Marcelino Oreja Aguirre.

On Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned countries hostile to Ankara's EU bid that their opposition was planting "doubts in the minds of Turks and slowing the pace of reform."

"The negative voices that we keep hearing from some countries in the EU just spread doubt among our citizens and impede our efforts to continue reforms," he wrote in an opinion piece in Sweden's paper of reference Dagens Nyheter.


Agencies

Last Mod: 09 Eylül 2009, 13:48
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