Manfred Weber, the European People’s Party lead candidate for the European Commission Presidency has pledged EU support in the renewed efforts to solve the Cyprus issue, while advocating the ending of the official accession process for Turkey.
In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, Weber also announces a stronger EU mechanism for enforcing Rule of Law values in the EU and a way to curb Russian and other third party influence on the internet and safeguard European democracy.
Asked if Turkey should remain a candidate country, Manfred Weber replied: “I am open to a constructive partnership based on deals, like the migration agreement we have with them, but we should be honest with each other: Turkey will never become a member of the European Union. A full membership of the European Union should not be an option any longer. My promise to voters is that we will stop the accession negotiations with Turkey.”
Asked to comment on how the EU involvement on the Cyprus issue resolution could be achieved, since a big part of the Cypriot population desire it, he replied: “the Cyprus problem is also a European problem and the EU will stand by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus and the Cypriot people. We have shown that in the past when Turkey was escalating the situation by threatening Cyprus in the Mediterranean. In my view, we need to continue to push for a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus Problem, in accordance with the UN resolutions and the EU acquis. The Turkish occupation of the north part of Cyprus is unacceptable and constitutes one of the open wounds of history on our European continent.”
Asked on how is he going to handle centrifugal elements like Orban and the Polish administration for instance, he spoke of EU’s toolbox to protect our fundamental values.
“The question we need to ask ourselves is if the tools have the desired effect. I think the authors of the Treaties would be very surprised and even shocked to see how prominent the rule of law debate has become in Europe. The fact that the Court of Justice was needed to intervene in Poland to protect the independence of the Constitutional court, shows us that democratic institutions are fragile. I believe we need stronger instruments that can intervene quicker and more decisively, to protect ourselves against the erosion of the rule of law in Europe. I will propose a stronger rule of law mechanism as President of the European Commission.”
Concerning Russian or other third party interference in the European elections and what can we do to safeguard European unity he said: “we should be very concerned about foreign influence in our elections. Because there are many states and organisations that want to see the EU fail, that want to break us apart. And at the moment the easiest way to do that is by buying Facebook ads, and spreading fake news and feeding polarisation in our society. The big social media platforms have a huge responsibility in making sure that they become transparent about who is paying for their content, to develop algorithms that do not prioritise fake news and divisive content and to clearly show if the sources mentioned in the posts are reliable or not. These elections will be a test case for Facebook, Google and Youtube to show that they can find solutions for these problems themselves. If they fail, we don’t have another option than to propose new laws that will force them to respect certain rules, like we did with the European privacy law.”
(Cyprus News Agency)