COULD PAPADOPULOS BLOCK THE NEGOTIATIONS WITH TURKEY?

The EU called on Turkey on several occasions to recognize Cyprus as this country has now become a full-fledged member of the Union that Turkey wishes to join. It also called on Turkey to open its harbours to the Greek Cypriot ships. However Turkey pointed out that it would not recognize “Cyprus” before a comprehensive solution acceptable to both parties in Cyprus is found.

The reason for it is simple. Turkey’s recognition of Cyprus will entail the recognition of two different sovereignties over the same territory, that is to say over the north of Cyprus. No country would put itself in such an irrational situation. Furthermore, no government in Turkey can sell such a move to the public opinion.

Therefore, it is not realistic to expect Turkey to recognize Cyprus, before a comprehensive solution is found. This is not an excuse invented by Turkey in order to justify its unwillingness. It was the EU itself that told Turkey the Annan Plan was the best possible solution to the Cyprus problem and that invited Turkey for this reason to encourage Turkish Cypriots to vote in favour of the Annan Plan. The majority of the public opinion in the mainland Turkey was against the Annan Plan. Despite this, the political leadership in Turkey took a risk and decided to encourage the Turkish Cypriots to follow the advice of the EU. The Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of the Annan Plan as a result of this encouragement. The Greek Cypriots voted against the Annan Plan. At the end, the Greek Cypriots were admitted to the EU. The Turkish Cypriots who followed the EU advice, instead of a reward, were left out of the EU. This is an episode that could be taught in the universities as an excellent example of unethical attitude in international relations.

The Annan Plan was providing for the accession of a “re-united Cyprus” to the EU. The EU chose to turn a blind eye to this fact by admitting a Cyprus that was not yet “re-united”. It will not be fair to ask Turkey to pay the bill for this fait accompli. I presume that the EU is aware of the mistake that it has committed by admitting Cyprus before the Cyprus question was solved. Turkey believes that it is now the turn of the Greek Cypriot side to reciprocate the positive move that the Turkish Cypriots made by voting in favour of the Annan Plan.

On the question of opening the harbours, Turkey said that it would be willing to do so if the Greek Cypriots agree to the opening of the Turkish Cypriot harbours to the international traffic at the same time. The Greek Cypriot side did not yet respond to this constructive proposal.

The accession negotiations will start most probably with the first screened chapters such as Science and Research or Education and Culture. Can Mr. Papadopulos go in the intergovernmental conference as far as blocking the start of accession negotiations with Turkey? It is less likely that he attempts to do so in such uncontroversial chapters. He may prefer to hold his cards for the opening of chapters like Free Movement of Goods or Right of Establishment and Freedom to Provide Services, because these chapters could be more directly related to the question of the opening of the Turkish harbours and airports to the Greek Cypriot ships and aircraft. If he blocks the start of the negotiations, he will also have to explain why he did not agree to the opening of the Turkish Cypriot harbours to the international traffic. Papadopulos may also know that the main loser will be the Greek Cypriots in case the accession negotiations with Turkey fail for one reason or another.

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