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Turkey’s seismic surveys off Cyprus unhelpful

11 November 2014

Monica Frassoni, co-president of the European Green Party (EGP) gave an interview with Turkish daily ‘Zaman’ on 7th November, What follows is a digest of the interview focussing on Turkey’s EU membership progress and its effect on the Cyprus problem:

Q: Many observers point out how difficult it has become to talk to the government of Turkey because of its strong-headed policies be they in domestic or foreign areas. Do you think Turkey has lost its EU orientation?

A: We have had these suspicions recently. The EU has not been encouraging in this regard either. Turkey is a proud country with a lot of potential, especially if it does not make the mistakes we talked about earlier. Turkey has to be very careful about that. The EU has a responsibility towards Turkey. Membership will not happen overnight. My own opinion is that the EU has to be deeply reformed before taking new members. We are not perfect; the EU needs to be much more integrated. Another problem with EU membership is that every time a new member joins, reforms stop in the new member country — like in Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, etc.

Q: There are also domestic concerns that Turkey is turning back to the pre-2004, pre-democratic-reforms era because of the adoption of some recent laws.

A: I agree. If the same party rules for more than 10 years, if there is a very strong personality heading the party, you’re bound to have this kind of occupation of power. Those types of setbacks are not good for Turkey.

Q: The latest Turkey Progress Report from the EU states that chapters 23 and 24 — blocked by Cyprus — related to basic rights, freedoms and the judiciary should be opened with Turkey. What is your opinion?

A: We as the Greens have been very vocal on Cyprus. We always held the opinion that Turkey could have made moves to put pressure on the Republic of Cyprus to solve problems. However, the attitude of Turkey gave fuel to the growing of the problem. We also think that Cyprus is responsible for obstructing the opening of the chapters. In addition, we think that it was wrong on the part of Turkey to make drillings for gas near Cyprus recently. This is not helpful at all.

Q: Do you think there will be enough will in the EU to remove the block from Greek Cyprus on these chapters?

A: Yes, but this also depends on Turkey. If Turkey sends ships drilling for gas near Cyprus, this is not helpful; and it will only unite members of the EU around the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey is a big country, Cyprus is so small. We have been dealing with this problem for decades. What if Turkey takes a bold step? Turkey will not lose, but only gain.

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