Turkey remains adamant that it will not open its ports to Greek Cypriot traffic. An anonymous official in the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that Ankara did not regard the Cyprus problem as being linked to Turkey’s accession to the EU.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, speaking at a press conference at the meeting of the 51st EU-Turkey Association Council, attended by Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said that “Seventeen [of the 35 negotiating chapters] are blocked for political reasons. We have to unblock this process because at this rate, it will take 50 years to finish. When the world is changing, we need more dynamic relations between Turkey and the EU.”
Chapter 22 on regional policy and the coordination of structural instruments is set to be the first chapter opened by Ankara in three years.
Under the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement, Turkey must open its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot ships and planes.
EU Commissioner Fule said that the Additional Protocol would re-fuel Turkey’s accession process; leading to the opening of more chapters.
Davutoglu pointed out that Cyprus and the membership process were two separate issues and there was divergence on the implementation of the protocol. He also called for talks on the external relations chapter, saying it was time for a new “strategic perspective in our relations.”
“Without Turkey, the EU will not be complete, it will not have strategic or geographic continuity,” he said. Echoing Fule’s statements, the bloc also said the EU noted with deep regret that Turkey, despite repeated calls, continued to refuse to fulfill its obligation to fully implement the Additional Protocol toward all member states.
“The EU underlined that meeting this obligation could provide a significant boost to the negotiation process,” it said. The bloc, however, praised Turkey’s reform process, with Fule saying he welcomed the current momentum in the accession negotiations.