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European Parliament to vote on tough warning on Cyprus for Turkey January 28, 2010

Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Turkey.
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Dutch Christian Democrat Ria Oomen-Ruijten drafted a resolution on  Cyprus calling for an “immediate start” to the withdrawal of Turkish  troops from the northern part of the island. Dutch Christian Democrat Ria Oomen-Ruijten drafted a resolution on Cyprus calling for an “immediate start” to the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the northern part of the island.

The Strasbourg-based European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee adopted on Wednesday a draft resolution on Turkey, calling on Turkey to hand over a Turkish Cypriot town to Greek Cypriots and to immediately begin the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the northern part of the island in order to contribute to ongoing reunification talks led by the United Nations between Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders.

The draft resolution, penned by Dutch Christian Democrat Ria Oomen-Ruijten, was adopted with 60 votes, while 11 members of the committee abstained, the Anatolia news agency reported, noting that in total 243 motions for amendment were submitted, while tough expressions concerning Cyprus were included in the draft resolution as a result of cooperation among Christian Democrats, Liberals and Socialists on many of those motions for amendment.

Eventually, the draft resolution adopted at the committee called on Turkey to immediately begin withdrawing its troops on the divided island to contribute to the ongoing negotiations between Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, to resolve issues surrounding Turkish citizens who settled in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) and to open the uninhabited town of Varosha to Greek Cypriots, Anatolia said.

European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee adopted a draft resolution calling on Turkey to hand over a Turkish Cypriot town to Greek Cypriots and to immediately begin the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the northern part of the island in order to contribute to ongoing reunification talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders led by the UN

Turkey sent its troops to Cyprus in 1974 following a decade of attacks on Turkish Cypriots by Greek Cypriot groups favoring unification with Greece and eventually a Greek-inspired coup on the island. Turkey now has more than 30,000 troops deployed on the Turkish part of the island.

Cyprus joined the European Union as a divided island when Greek Cypriots in the south rejected a UN reunification plan in twin referendums in 2004, even though the Turkish Cypriots in the north overwhelmingly supported it. The issue of security guarantees is one of the thorniest disputes that Talat and Christofias need to tackle during the negotiations.

Varosha, once a prime vacation resort run mainly by Greek Cypriots, is now in a military zone and closed to civilians. In 2006, Finland, then the term president of the EU, floated a plan that provided for the opening of the port of Famagusta in Turkish Cyprus to international trade under EU administration in return for opening a limited number of Turkish ports to traffic from Greek Cyprus and the transfer of Varosha to the United Nations. The plan, however, failed to materialize after a series of closed-door talks among the parties concerned.

With the motions for amendment, the draft resolution also urged Turkey to resolve problems of Greek Cypriot people in Gökçeada and Bozcaada concerning their property and education rights and to protect the bilateral cultural structure of these two Aegean islands.

Speaking at a press conference following the adoption of the draft resolution, Oomen-Ruijten, a Christian Democrat, worked with Socialists and Liberals to include tough expressions on Cyprus in the draft.

Despite this fact, the resolution is still balanced, Oomen-Ruijten argued, while she said she planned to include the recently revealed Balyoz (Sledgehammer) Security Operation Plan in the draft ahead of a plenary session of the European Parliament during which the final vote on the draft will take place.

Oomen-Ruijten was referring to the coup plan exposed by the liberal Taraf daily last week. The plan was drafted in 2003, shortly after the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) came to power. The masterminds behind the plan were retired Gen. Çetin Doğan, who was then commander of the 1st Army, retired Air Forces Commander Gen. İbrahim Fırtına and retired Gen. Ergin Saygun.

Anatolia noted that the European Parliament will debate the draft resolution on Feb. 10 and that voting will take place on Feb. 11.

The draft, meanwhile, reiterated the EU’s view that an ongoing investigation into Ergenekon, a clandestine organization accused of attempting to create chaos and undermine the stability of Turkey in order to trigger a coup d’état, should be used as an opportunity for Turkey to strengthen confidence in the decent functioning of its democratic institutions and the rule of law. It also underlined the extent of the Ergenekon crime network.

An urgent need for judicial reform and deep concerns over the Constitutional Court’s ruling last month to close the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) on charges of having links with terrorism are mentioned in the draft.

It also harshly condemns terrorist activities by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and asks the PKK to lay down its arms, end violence and respond to the government’s political initiative, which was launched as a broad democratization plan also envisioning the expansion of Kurdish people’s rights in the country.

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