According to Turkish daily Hurriyet Daily News (online, 08.01.16), the responsibility for re-energizing Turkey’s accession process will belong to the European Union even in the event that the ongoing Cyprus talks fail to produce a breakthrough, Turkey’s EU Minister Volkan Bozkir has alleged, asking the bloc to keep its promises toward Ankara.
“In the event that the Cyprus problem cannot be resolved, the removal of the blockages imposed on chapters by the Greek Cyprus (editor’s note: as he refers to the Republic of Cyprus) without an EU Council decision or in the absence of a legal basis belongs to the EU”, Bozkir told a group of reporters traveling to Eskisehir with him on Jan 7.
A letter signed by Donald Tusk [President of the EU Council] and Jean-Claude Juncker [President of the EU Commission] and sent to our Prime Minister stands as a commitment to the opening of these five chapters. They don’t say that these chapters can [only] be opened if the Cyprus problem is resolved”, he said.
The letter Bozkir referred to was sent to the Turkish government as an annex to a Nov. 29, 2015, joint statement between Turkey and the EU and cited five chapters the EU Commission promised to prepare for opening in the first quarter of 2016.
The five chapters are under a Greek Cypriot veto, and there are concerns that the failure of Cypriot reunification talks would also have a negative impact on the Ankara-Brussels relationship.
Our position in keeping the Cyprus issue unrelated to our EU accession process remains. We will not allow any kind of involvement of the Cyprus problem in our accession process. There is this commitment of the EU. But in the event the Cyprus problem is resolved, then all these chapters will absolutely be opened automatically,” he said.
The joint statement reached by Turkey and the EU also opens new avenues for the intensification of political and economic dialogue, the Minister said, announcing that Turkish and EU leaders would first come together on Jan. 25 in Turkey. EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, EU Commissioner Responsible for Enlargement Johannes Hahn, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Bozkir will come together in a four-way meeting. “We’ll meet more frequently afterwards,” Bozkir said, adding that Turkey’s Foreign Minister would also increase the number of visits to EU-related meetings.
Another top meeting will be held in the field of energy as the Turkey-EU high-level Energy Cooperation Council will meet in Istanbul on Jan. 28-29. “This meeting will not only focus on the TANAP [Trans-Anatolian Pipeline Project] and the Turkish Stream but also on potential projects for the transportation of reserves from Turkmenistan, Qatar, Iran, northern Iraq and off Cyprus,” he said.
In the meantime, Turkey and eight EU countries with similar policies on migration issues will come together at a mini summit on Feb. 18 in Brussels.