Leading Europeans say resolution to Cyprus conflict is key to Turkey?s accession process.
With a new round of peace talks on Cyprus resuming this month, a group of distinguished Europeans today issued a report urging the two sides to arrive at a settlement in order to remove obstacles to the accession negotiations between Turkey and the European Union.
"Turkey's progress towards joining the European Union would get a major boost from resolving the division of Cyprus," said Martti Ahtisaari, Chair of the Independent Commission and the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. "The seductive idea that the status quo can go on forever is a delusion. The cost of inaction this time around is too high."
Turkey in Europe: Breaking the Vicious Circle, the second report of the Independent Commission on Turkey, analyses the key developments in EU-Turkey relations and puts forward concrete steps necessary to revive negotiations. The report also argues for deeper convergence between Turkey and the EU not only to drive further transformation in Turkey but also to restore European credibility.
Despite a promising start to negotiations in 2004, the process has become a vicious cycle: fierce opposition from some European politicians combined with growing public resistance to further EU enlargement, in turn has deepened resentment in Turkey and slowed the necessary reforms.
"To breathe new life into the negotiations, the EU must simply follow through on previous commitments to keep the path to membership open; no new promises are needed," said Ahtisaari.
The report's other conclusions include:
The shared objective of negotiations with Turkey is accession, not any alternative such as a "privileged partnership".
Turkey is a key geo-strategic partner for Europe, particularly because of its regional role and its central location for energy supplies from the Caspian Sea, Central Asia and the Middle East.
After a golden age of reforms between 2000 and 2005, domestic political disruptions have distracted Turkey from reforms. Two years without elections now lie ahead, and all sides must act now to prevent the country's convergence with the EU from stalling. Comprehensive, consistent and sustained progress towards more democracy at home is the best way to persuade more Europeans of Turkey's EU compatibility.
The Independent Commission remains convinced of the huge benefits of Turkish convergence with Europe, and eventual EU membership of a transformed Turkey, both for the country itself and the European Union
The full text of the report can be found at the Independent Commission on Turkey's website: http://www.independentcommissiononturkey.org/
The nine Commission members are: Martti Ahtisaari; Kurt Biedenkopf; Emma Bonino; Hans van den Broek; Bronislaw Geremek († 13 July 2008); Anthony Giddens; Marcelino Oreja Aguirre; Michel Rocard and Albert Rohan. The Commission is supported by the British Council and the Open Society Foundation (Turkey). Martti Ahtisaari, Emma Bonino, Anthony Giddens, Marcelino Oreja Aguirre and Albert Rohan are ECFR council members.
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The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. This commentary, like all publications of the European Council on Foreign Relations, represents only the views of its authors.