Time for a Cyprus-Turkey Compromise
by George Kentas, Research Fellow
Turkey’s bid for participation in the EU’s European Defense Agency (EDA) offers a good
opportunity for compromise between this country and the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey, an EU
candidate state that is about to open accession negotiations with the Union, wants to become an
associate member of the EDA, an Agency aiming to enhance cooperation among the EU member
states on armaments and procurement and to improve the Union’s military capacity with regard to
its Security and Defense Policy. However, Turkey blocks the participation of Cyprus, an EU
member state, in the EU-NATO’s Berlin Plus agreement. On this ground, Cyprus opposes Turkish
involvement in the EDA. A few weeks ago Cyprus vetoed Turkey’s application to the EDA. In
order to become an associate member of the EDA, Turkey needs to conclude a security agreement
with the EU on classified information, a step that Cyprus has blocked.
This development might lead to further deterioration of EU-NATO relations. Since last May, NATO
and the EU cannot have serious discussions about security issues because Turkey blocks Cyprus’
(and Malta’s) participation in the relevant meetings between the two organizations. Turkey claims
that since Cyprus and Malta didn’t conclude bilateral security agreements with NATO, they cannot
have access to NATO’s classified information.
As a compromise, Cyprus could accept Turkey’s participation in the EDA and, in return, Turkey could
accept Cyprus’ participation in the Berlin Plus framework. Such a compromise would end the ongoing
deadlock in EU-NATO cooperation on security and defense policies.
We believe that now is the time to bring this deadlock to an end through a win-win situation. Turkey
would become associated with the EDA and Cyprus (and Malta) would participate in the Berlin Plus
regime. A Cyprus-Turkey compromise on European security issues would pave the way for enhanced
relations between the two states and lead to an improved climate for the settlement of the Cyprus Problem.
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