EU, Turkey and strategic interests

Article by Eleni Mavrou, AKEL Political Bureau member

Sunday 21 April 2024, AKEL C.C. Press Office, Nicosia

The references made to the Cyprus problem in the Conclusions of the European Council last Wednesday went rather unnoticed. It’s understandable from one point of view. When everyone is dreading a conflict breaking out in our region, with unpredictable dimensions, it is to be expected that a problem frozen in time is not high on the priorities of the international or European community. Here, one wonders if it is high on the priorities of many people.

After all, the European Council has more or less repeated what it tells us every time: Namely, that it “remains fully committed to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, within the framework of the UN, in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions”. That, furthermore, “the European Union stands ready make an active contribution to support the procedure under the auspices of the UN, making use of all the appropriate instruments at its disposal”.

This is positive. It is also positive that the European Council is making it clear once again that any efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem go through the UN – and those forces and circles in Cyprus who still talk about so-called “European initiatives” and appointment of “EU envoys” would do well to take this on board.

Besides, for there to be any EU involvement – as has happened in the past in Mont Pelerin, at the Geneva Summit and at Crans-Montana – negotiations themselves will have to start, which is not on the horizon.

If anything was the subject of debate arising from the European Council Conclusions, it was the reference that “the EU attaches particular importance to the resumption and progress of the talks for a solution of the Cyprus problem with a view to further strengthening EU-Turkey cooperation”. This is because President Christodoulides has tried to convince us that for the first time we have achieved a substantive link between the Euro-Turkey relations with progress on the Cyprus problem.

However, no one said that the Conclusions themselves didn’t mention anything specific with regards Turkey’s obligations. Nor did these Conclusions set out any preconditions or even the need for Turkey to abandon its unacceptable demands for so-called “sovereign equality” and a two state solution. Am I wrong, then, to think that similar statements were made in the past? When we were assured that “the EU has moved from strong verbal positions to expressing practical solidarity”.

Nor does anyone talk about the references in the Conclusions to the EU’s relations with Turkey. For example, where it stresses that “it is in the strategic interest of the European Union to develop a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey”.

For those reasons we should abandon the unproductive statements made to serve internal consumption and see how we can formulate a positive agenda that will help break the deadlock and so that we can move forward.

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