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Ankara criticizes European Parliament over Cyprus vote February 16, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Cyprus, EU, European Union, Turkey.
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While Ankara slams a Council of Europe report on Cyprus that comes amid ongoing intensified talks for reunification of the divided island, it welcomes another European report calling on both Turkey and Greece to fulfill responsibilities toward their minorities

Ankara has criticized the European Parliament after its foreign affairs committee adopted a controversial report that called for Turkey to withdraw its military from the divided island of Cyprus.

“While the intensified talks are ongoing between the two Cypriot leaders on the island, such decisions demonstrate the European Parliament’s detachment from the process,” diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. “Those who vote for this report should watch television.”

The parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee adopted a draft motion Wednesday that called for Turkey to withdraw its troops from Cyprus, resolve the issue of Turkish citizens settled on the island and allow Greek Cypriot access to Maraş, or Varosha, a quarter in the city of Famagusta.

Sixty committee members voted in favor of the draft report prepared by Dutch parliamentarian and Turkey rapporteur Ria Oomen-Ruijten while 11 abstained.

The report urges the Turkish government to seek solutions to preserve the bicultural character of Turkish islands Gökçeada and Bozcaada and to address problems encountered by Greek people with regard to their education and property rights.

At a news conference following the vote, Oomen-Ruijten said the members of the Socialist and Liberal blocs in the parliament were responsible for the tougher line on Turkey, yet still regarded the report as balanced. The parliament is scheduled to debate the report on Feb. 10, followed by final parliamentary voting the following day.

Ankara welcomes Council of Europe report

Ankara meanwhile welcomed another report urging both Turkey and Greece to treat their religious minorities in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights, saying it is the first time a Council of Europe report acknowledged the responsibilities that should be fulfilled by Greece.

“The criticism posed to Turkey in the report is nothing new but it is important that the criticism of Greece is cited for the first time in a report by the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of the Europe [PACE],” said a senior Turkish Foreign Ministry diplomat who requested anonymity.

The PACE report called on Turkey and Greece not to act reciprocally in their treatment of religious minorities as defined by the Lausanne Treaty but to instead comply with the standards established by the European Convention on Human Rights. The report further urged the two countries not to apply discrimination against members of religious minorities.

It called on the two countries to recognize the ethnic identity of individuals and contribute to the solution of minorities’ religious and educational problems.

“We are already working to enhance the standards of our minorities. The elements criticized in the report are already on our agenda,” said the same diplomat in reference to European calls for Ankara to recognize the ecumenical title of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch and open Istanbul’s Halki seminary.

The PACE General Assembly also approved a report by French parliamentarian Michel Hunault on religious freedoms for the Greek minority in Turkey and the Turkish minority in Western Thrace, other human rights and a relevant resolution. Some 102 parliamentarians voted “yes” while 18 voted “no.” Four parliamentarians abstained.

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