07 October, 2005
The point of reference and rule of thumb for the Greek stance is the text (negotiating framework) agreed by the 25 European Union member states, which will be constantly present throughout the entire process of Turkey's EU accession course, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said on Thursday during a regular press briefing.
He said that Ankara's interpretations and statements just 48 hours after the formal commencement of its EU accession negotiations were "its own", when asked to comment on recent statements by Turkish officials regarding the provisions of the negotiating framework with respect to application of Turkey's Association Agreement Protocol, which extends its Customs Union agreement with the EU to the 10 new EU members, including Cyprus.
On July 29, Ankara signed the Association Agreement Protocol, by virtue of which Turkey extended its Customs Union agreement with the EU to the 10 new member states, including Cyprus. In tandem, Ankara also submitted a separate, unilateral declaration stating that it refused to recognize the Cyprus Republic and that its ports and airports would remain closed to Cypriot ships and planes.
However, the negotiating framework agreed by the Council of EU Foreign Ministers late Monday, enabling the commencement of the accession negotiations, set as one of the conditions for membership: "The fulfillment of Turkey's obligations under the Association Agreement and its Additional Protocol extending the Association Agreement to all new EU Member States, in particular those pertaining to the EU-Turkey customs union, as well as the implementation of the Accession Partnership, as regularly revised". (Paragraph 6, sub-paragraph 4)
Koumoutsakos further reiterated that a statement issued by the British EU presidency regarding the right of veto retained by Turkey on Cyprus' accession to international organizations "has no legal bearing", nor does it affect the content of Paragraph 7 of the Negotiating Framework, adding that the Greek side accepted it since it was "something self-evident in international relations".
The spokesman clarified, however, it was Ankara's exercise of its right of veto that would be judged in the framework of the accession process.
Paragraph 7 of the negotiating framework stipulates: "In the period up to accession, Turkey will be required to progressively align its policies towards third countries and its positions within international organizations (including in relation to the membership by all EU Member States of those organizations and arrangements) with the policies and positions adopted by the Union and its Member States."
Questioned on US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's involvement in the procedures for the commencement of Turkey's accession negotiations, Koumoutsakos noted that "in international relations, the countries discuss with each other". However, he added, the "main issue is who finally decides".
To a question on the continued presence of Turkish occupation troops on Cyprus, Koumoutsakos said that everything would be taken into account and assessed throughout the access negotiations process.
"The issue of the presence of occupation troops has been repeatedly condemned by the international community. Turkey is accountable for that. It is a complicated matter related to the resolution of the Cyprus problem within the framework of the UN," he added.
Koumoutsakos stressed, however, that the situation "creates a specific climate" in the European Union.
He also pointed out that Turkey's tactic of infringements of the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) and violations of Greece's national airspace by Turkish fighter planes "is not compatible" with Turkey's obligations regarding good neighborhood relations.
Source: Athens News Agency