Turkey’s delayed hopes of joining the European Union, which began in 2005, remain stalled by refusal to recognize Cyprus, a member, and refusal to admit Cypriot ships and planes to Turkish airports and ports, the European Commission said.
Adding to the troubles is growing Turkish aggression and provocations in the Aegean with warships trying to block foreign energy vessels from Cypriot waters where they are licensed to drill for oil and gas.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s refusal to remove an army from the northern third of the island occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion and demands for the right to militarily intervene collapsed unity talks in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.
His growing near-dictatorial powers in the wake of a failed July, 2015 coup attempt against him have also hurt Turkey’s chances of joining the EU, the Commission said, and as he tries to gain control of the media, courts and country.
The EU’s annual accession report said that one chapter has been sidelined until Turkey applies the so-called additional Ankara Protocol and displays good neighborly relations without threats, Kathimerini Cyprus reported.
That requires Turkey to allow in Cypriot ships and planes, which Erdogan refuses to do.
“As long as restrictions remain in place on vessels and aircraft registered in or related to Cyprus or whose last port of call was Cyprus, Turkey will not be in a position to fully implement the acquis relating to this chapter,” said the report.
The European Commission report urged Turkey to avoid violence or to make threats for the use of violence against an EU member state, referring to Turkey refusing to recognize part of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and challenging drilling rights.
“The EU has repeatedly stressed the sovereign rights of EU Member States, which include inter alia entering into bilateral agreements and exploring and exploiting their natural resources in accordance with the EU acquis and international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the report said.
Despite being blasted, Erdogan said last month that his country remained committed to membership after being simultaneously denounced by the EU and then praised for not sending more refugees and migrants to Greek islands.