The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ioannis Kasoulides, participated yesterday, in Brussels, in the deliberations of the EU General Affairs Council (GAC). The Ministers discussed, inter alia, the 2016 enlargement package, and they finalized the preparations for the European Council on 15 December 2016.
As regards the enlargement package, the Council did not reach a consensus, because Austria was not in position to agree on the final compromise text of the member states.
As a whole, the text is considered to be positive, since it includes strong messages regarding Turkey’s Cyprus-related obligations and it was strengthened particularly as regards the role of Turkey in the negotiation process for the solution of the Cyprus problem.
In line with the repeated Council’s and Commission’s positions from previous years, the text urges Turkey to fulfill its obligation of fully implementing the Additional Protocol and make progress towards normalization of relations with the Republic of Cyprus.
It is repeated that the sovereignty of the member states within their territorial waters and over their airspace should be respected, and any threats or actions against the member states should be avoided. Also, the accession of the Union’s member states to international organizations, as well as the need for Turkey to comply with the decisions of the European Court for Human Rights, were stressed.
On the Cyprus problem, the Commission welcomes the engagement by the parties to the UN-led settlement talks and stresses that Turkey’s contribution to a comprehensive settlement is crucial. In this framework, Turkey is called upon to actively support the negotiations for a fair, comprehensive and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, in line with the UN Security Council resolutions and the principles on which the Union is founded.
In this year’s preparatory discussion, the Turkish restrictions against the Republic of Cyprus as regards the Custom Union were noted. At the same time, Turkey is urged to take all necessary steps to create a positive climate in the ongoing talks.
During Tuesday’s debate, Minister Kasoulides asked for additional references, which were accepted by the member states. Specifically, a reference was added on the preparatory work within the European Commission for the upgrade of the Custom Union, which clarifies that this is being made without the biased position of the member states. Additionally, on the Cyprus problem, an explicit reference was added concerning the need for the solution to be compatible with the EU acquis./IBNA