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Egemen Bagis: For Turkey It Is Not Important Who the Rotation EU Presidency Is

Published on , , Sofia

As of Sunday, Cyprus takes over the Presidency of the Council of the EU at a time when the relations between the Union and Turkey gain a new momentum. Months ago Turkey threatened that it would freeze work with the rotation presidency of the EU until there was progress in the relationship between the Greek and Turkish part of the island of Cyprus that would lead to unfreezing the accession process of Turkey. A number of times EU officials reiterated at the highest level that Turkey had to respect one of the main EU institutions, included in the EU Treaties.

Again such a call was made by the Danish foreign minister, Nicolai Wammen, during the jubilee EU-Turkey Accession Council earlier this week, when Ankara received for the first time good news - a mention of visa liberalisation as a perspective for the country. On his way back to Turkey, the Turkish chief negotiator, Egemen Bagis, stopped by in Sofia for a brief visit. After his meeting with Bulgaria's foreign minister Nickolay Mladenov, Mr Bagis answered a question by euinside whether Turkey would work with the EU presidency in the second semester of the year.

Mr Bagis initially did not understand whether he was asked about the current presidency (Denmark, which ends this week) or the next, which will be taken over precisely by Cyprus. After some clarifications, he said: "The rotation presidency of the EU is a temporary presidency. We don't have to have special attitude towards it. As a candidate country, in the accession process, we work together mainly with the Commission on the various agreements, which is why it is not important who will the rotation president be. We will continue to work with the Commission, with parliamentary groups, etc. We have no special relations in terms of Northern Cyprus to have some changes or a different attitude towards the new rotation presidency. We wish success to the rotation presidents. If Cyprus had some relations, had developed cooperation with the Northern Republic of Cyprus, it would have been better but they can also be neighbouring countries". (the English translation is based on the how Mr Bagis was translated in Bulgarian from Turkish by the Bulgarian MFA)

Obviously Ankara's position has softened but it is clear that Turkey will avoid communicating with the presidency which, in spite of the growing role of the Commission because of the recently launched positive agenda with Turkey, has an important role in defining the EU agenda in the second half of the year.

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