EU Insists Turkey Fully Implement Customs Protocol

BRUSSELS (Combined Sources)–The European Commission has insisted that Turkey must fully implement an EU customs protocol if it hopes to join the bloc–despite Ankara’s refusal to recognize Cyprus as a member state.

Spokeswoman Krisztina Nagy said Turkey’s hopes of joining the EU hinged on its respect for the revised Ankara protocol. Turkey signed the pact in Brussels last month but added a declaration that it did not amount to recognizing Cyprus.

"What is important for the commission is to see a full and total implementation of the Ankara protocol and the customs union," Nagy told reporters.

She said that would include allowing Cypriot ships to use Turkish ports.

"There are conditions on the free movement of goods in those documen’s," Nagy stated. "Turkey has to grant access to Cypriot vessels."

EU leaders gave the vast Muslim state the green light in December to start entry talks despite its refusal to recognize the government of Cyprus–which was among 10 countries that joined the EU last year.

Nagy’s commen’s came as EU ambassadors were being briefed on the protocol and the attached declaration by a commission legal expert.

The ambassadors are preparing the ground for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Wales on Thursday at which the issue is certain to figure high on the agenda.

The issue of Turkey has recently become contentious again–as member states such as France and Austria–as well as potentially Germany under a new conservative leadership after its upcoming elections–have signaled that they prefer a loose partnership with Ankara as opposed to full membership.

Austria has stated that Vienna will seek ‘privileged partnership’ to be explicitly stated as an alternative to full Turkish EU membership.

The European Commission’s negotiating terms state open ended process with the aim of EU membership–but not with Turkey’s entry as guaranteed conclusion.

In a letter to her EU colleagues on Thursday–Austrian foreign minister Ursula Plassnik said the mandate should specify a "specific alternative to EU membership."

"Such a partnership would constitute a more realistic goal in the middle term–for Turkey as well as for the EU member states–without excluding the perspective of full membership," Plassnik wrote.


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