Turkey's membership process to the European Union is going through a critical stage

Iran Materials 8 November 2006 17:23 (UTC +04:00)

(zaman) - Turkey's membership process to the European Union is going through a critical stage. The EU commission will release its Progress Report and Strategy Document today.

Additional time given in regard to the additional protocol, which is of vital importance in terms of the negotiation process, is expected to be officialized.

There will be a one-month wait before the additional protocol stipulating the opening of Turkish ports to Greek Cyprus is implemented. Talks on the Cyprus plan presented by Finland will continue until the EU Summit Dec. 14-15.

The additional time seems to have refreshed hopes of breaking free from the deadlock. In the event Turkey does not fulfill its responsibilities as dictated by the additional protocol, the commission will have to find new recommendations for Turkey, reports Trend.

Brussels is facing another critical day. EU Commission executives met yesterday but did not reach a conclusion on the Cyprus issue.

Finland is going to intensify its efforts on Cyprus during the one month of additional time. The Turkish and Greek sides are expected to follow a strategy of appearing flexible as far as the Finnish plan is concerned.

Turkey is of the opinion that the additional time would be meaningful if it allowed for a revision of the Finnish Plan. Turkish Cyprus and Ankara keep emphasizing that the Finnish Plan is not acceptable.

Turkish Cypriot sources spoke to the Zaman daily and said: Opening the Magosa (Famagusta) port to direct trade will not be enough for lifting the sanctions. There should be open trade at Ercan Airport and Girne (Kyrenia) Harbor as well.

Turkish sources think that South Cyprus is taking advantage of its membership by trying to bring Turkey's EU membership process to a halt and to extort concessions.

Ankara does not see any hope unless the Finnish Plan is renewed and stated that the additional time given would only be of use if Turkish Cyprus were listened to.

There are reports that the United States could also weigh in on this issue, which could affect the prospects of the Finnish plan definitively.

In the mean time, relations between the Greek Cypriots and Greece are gradually becoming tense over policy on Turkey.

Athens does not approve of the Cypriot demand that the negotiations be suspended if the Ankara Protocol is not implemented.

If the EU Commission endorses the additional time, the December Summit will turn into a new Turkish summit. The European press has already started speculating that the December Summit will end up like another Dec. 17 summit in importance, referring to the 2004 decision to begin EU membership negotiations.

If a solution cannot be found, the EU leaders will need to find new recommendations. If it comes to that, a consensus is needed for the December Summit negotiations to be partially suspended.