The EU Commission's Report on Turkey and Cyprus' Position in December

by Andreas Theophanous, Professor of Political Economy and Director General of the Center


One of the most serious dilemmas faced by the Republic of Cyprus after its accession to the EU

on May 1st 2004 is its stance in December 2004 regarding the prospect of fixing a date for the

start of accession talks between the EU and Turkey.  The EU Commission’s Report for Turkey

has been positive but conditional.  This should not come as a surprise given that Europe is

very divided in relation to this issue.  Furthermore, the Report downplays the responsibilities

of Ankara for the present situation in Cyprus.  Indeed, the Annan Plan has served to take Turkey

off the hook at least in the short run.  Had the Republic of Cyprus not gone through the trial

of arbitration on the Annan Plan and its subsequent rejection by the Greek-Cypriot side, things

 would have been easier.  Cyprus could be more demanding; of course, this does not mean that

the Republic lacks the legitimacy to raise issues of concern.  What should be pointed out,

however, is the fact that the environment in which it will have to pursue them is much more difficult.


Cyprus could address the issue of setting a date for the start of accession negotiations between

the EU and Turkey taking into consideration all the relevant factors. Theoretically, there are three

different approaches and policy options:


(a)    YES – without any conditions. This policy is based on the position that the European

prospects of Turkey serve the long-term interests of the Greek Cypriots, of Cyprus as

a whole, and broader interests as well.

(b)    NO – this policy is based on the assessment that the accession of Turkey does

not serve either the interests of Cyprus or those of the EU.

(c)    YES – under certain conditions / NO – in case such specified conditions are not

fulfilled. This approach may be more Cypro-centric.


The policy of an unconditional YES vote by Cyprus in December does not seem to make much

sense.  And, in any case, no serious self-respecting country would readily offer its consent

unconditionally.  We should not forget where the policy of continuous concessions – and,

indeed, without anything in return – in the Cyprus problem has led: to the popular explosion

of the 24th April 2004 and to temporarily absolving Turkey of its responsibilities for the

situation in Cyprus.


Therefore, a YES without any conditions should not be considered as a serious political option.

Considering that Cyprus’ European partners insisted that Turkey should deal with the issue of adultery

in a secular and not an Islamic spirit if it was to avoid jeopardizing its chances of getting a start date

for accession negotiations, why couldn’t Cyprus pose reasonable and legitimate demands on Turkey,

a country that not only continues to occupy almost 40% of the island’s territory, but also does not

recognize the Republic of Cyprus?


The NO option, which is based, by and large, on the position that the accession of Turkey does

not serve the interests either of Cyprus or of the EU, should not be adopted, not because this

proposition is necessarily wrong. Had the Cyprus problem not existed, this policy could have been an

option. If this had been the case, the alternative that could have been proposed would be a special

relationship between the EU and Turkey, as seems to be the prevalent view among the public

almost all in EU member countries. Be that as it may, the issue of Euro-Turkish relations is of critical

importance and Cyprus cannot shoulder this burden alone.


The third option available to the Republic of Cyprus is to cast a conditional YES vote.  Both

philosophically and practically, this approach is not new in international relations or in dealings within

the EU itself. On the contrary, it is quite a common phenomenon. Consequently, if this policy option

is adopted by Cyprus, the demands to be put forward must be very carefully considered – both for

substantive as well as for tactical reasons. Among other things, it is underlined that such a policy

comprises the options of both a YES and a NO vote in December.  In other words, Cyprus can declare

that a veto in December is an option that it does not want to exercise but that it will have to, if it

is left with no other choice.


The Republic of Cyprus is legitimized to demand (a) the immediate return of Famagusta to its

inhabitants within the framework of a new package of confidence-building measures, (b) a timetable

and a road map for the withdrawal of Turkish troops and (c) the contribution of Turkey towards the

settlement of the Cyprus problem. It also goes without saying that Turkey has to proceed with

the long delayed fulfillment of its obligations towards the EU, namely, to extend its Customs Union

with Cyprus, and to recognize the Republic of Cyprus.



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