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04 December, 1998
The European Parliament believes that the continuing occupation of part of Cyprus' territory by Turkey and Ankara's efforts to create obstacles in the republic's European Union accession course, are additional problems in the development of Turkey's relations with Europe.
The European Parliament plenary yesterday adopted a resolution, containing a reference to Cyprus, that accompanies the report prepared by Austrian Euro-MP Hannes Swoboda regarding the development of a European strategy towards Turkey.
In the paragraph referring to Cyprus, the European Parliament reconfirms that an additional political obstacle for Turkey's accession to the EU is its continuing occupation of the northern areas of Cyprus.
Turkey invaded Cyprus in July 1974 occupying 37 per cent of the island's territory. It still maintains a 35,000 strong army in Cyprus, despite UN resolutions calling for its withdrawal.
The European Parliament also referred to Turkey's stance towards Cyprus' EU accession course, noting Ankara's trying to delay the accession of a candidate country.
Turkey supports that Cyprus cannot join the EU, if it is not also a member, a position rejected by the Union itself.
The European Parliament also called on Turkey to actively contribute towards efforts for a political settlement to the Cyprus problem, based on UN resolutions, and to stop threatening that it will integrate the occupied areas.
It also encourages Ankara to back contact between Cyprus' Greek and Turkish communities.
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash does not allow Turkish Cypriots to participate in most bicommunal events, since December last year, after the EU reconfirmed it would begin accession talks with Cyprus in March 1998.
Mr. Swoboda described Turkey as an important country for the EU, but said it had to satisfy the criteria set out by the EU if it wants to join its ranks.
The Austrian Euro-MP noted that at the moment Turkey does not satisfy the criteria and said Ankara should provide the EU with a time schedule on its harmonization with European criteria.
He also asked Turkey to cooperate in a Cyprus settlement and backed the Republic's accession to the EU.
Source: Athens News Agency