Wien, 18. October 2006 Press release

Plassnik: "Turkey must use time window that is still open"

18.10.2006

Cypriot Foreign Minister Lillikas met with Foreign Minister Plassnik

Vienna, 18 October 2006 - "The accession negotiations between the EU and Turkey, which started a year ago, have now reached a critical stage. The question occupying us all is: Are we facing a deadlock scenario or will it be possible to avoid "derailment"? In its declaration of 21 September 2005 the EU made it clear that it expected Turkey to show progress with regard to the Cyprus question by 2006," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik today on the occasion of the visit of Cypriot Foreign Minister Yiorgos Lillikas.

During its EU Presidency Austria had therefore worked hard on proposals for a solution to the Cyprus question. The adoption of the Financial Aid Regulation, which earmarked 259 million euros to promote the economic development of the Turkish-Cypriot group, had been a considerable contribution to this end. It was to be hoped that the proposals based on Austria's preparations and put forward by the Finnish EU Presidency would be accepted by the parties, emphasised the Foreign Minister. "We support the efforts of the Finnish EU Presidency and appeal to the parties to make progress. My talks with Foreign Minister Yiorgos Lillikas also focused on this issue," continued Plassnik.

Foreign Minister Plassnik stressed that Turkey had signed an agreement with the EU under which it pledged to expand the customs union to all new EU Member States. The year before the EU had made a comprehensive offer to Turkey at the start of the negotiations on 3 October. It was therefore now Turkey's turn to comply with the rules for the accession negotiations and submit credible clarifications of its own intentions. "Too little has been done so far. Turkey has to use the time window that is still open, otherwise the name of the next station will be "deadlock" and it would require a great deal of effort to get back out of this dead end. The EU is patient, but it does not grant any discounts to individual partners. Turkey must decide for itself which course it wants to follow," continued Plassnik.

In the light of past experiences it would be prudent to choose a cautious approach. "In the EU-Turkey relationship this includes thinking in terms of realistic options - as requested by Austria on 3 October 2005. We must not ask too much of each other," said Plassnik. This was also essentially connected with the EU’s absorption capacity. "A year ago this subject triggered the resistance of practically all the EU partners. Thanks to our insistence it has been succeeded to permanently anchoring this concept in the European debate. In this context the Commission will present a special report in the near future, which we expect to show us the way due to its profoundness and comprehensiveness," concluded the Foreign Minister.

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