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Cyprus & Turkey: Where to Now?

by Upstate NY Tue Jun 14th, 2005 at 05:38:30 AM EST

This article in the Washington Times gives the perspective of the Cyprus Ambassador to the US on the intractable Cyprus conflict.

Cyprus Backs Turkey?

He clearly seems to feel that Cyprus is being used as a pawn, a bargaining chip, by greater powers who wish to buy Turkey's participation in the Middle East Peace Project (ahem).

More below.

It's not only the US that sees a small country like Cyprus as not worth the bother, but also powerful members of the EU feel the same way (esp. Germany, the Netherlands and definitely England). Sadly, the UN is piling on. I have seen in the past how the UN (Kofi Annan) plays power politics in certain situations, and this is one of them. The UN is not always a fair arbiter.

There are a great many things at stake, Turkey's entrance in to the EU (Cyprus has a veto), military strategies in the Meditteranean (Cyprus has been called an unsinkable battleship), international justice (UN resolutions condemning Turkey's invasion of 1974) and civil rights (lots of people on the island from both sides have had their rights curtailed).

How this will play out will tell us a lot about respect for international law, human rights, European respect for the EU charter and laws, and how these laws are upheld when pressured by powerful interests.

There's a lot of background that I can give on Cyprus, and it could go on forever. If anyone has questions, I'd be glad to answer them.

The Cpriot government would have had a lot more influence had it not renaged on the deal that was reached over the re-unification of the island. They campaigned for a no vote despite the olive branch offered by the Turkish north.

Your and the ambassor's positions are unclear. He appears to be saying that Turkey should be admitted to the EU to solve the problem though this could be AP garbling his message. He seems to be suggesting to the US government that they would stand in the way of US ambitions to get Turkish accession if the US does not pressurise Turkey to withdraw its troops. If so, Cyprus is in a very poor position as Turkey's entry is unlikely to be speeded up by that and if anything overt US lobbying for Turkish entry is liable to be counter-productive.

I am afraid it very much looks like it will not be possible for the Turks to convincingly adopt the acquis  to enable entry until at least 2020. The Generals still have far too great an influence over Turkish politics. The way things are going, Georgia and Ukraine are likely to acceed before Turkey.

by Londonbear on Tue Jun 14th, 2005 at 07:36:05 AM EST
I don't understand the ambassador to be implying what you said at all. To me, he seemed to be implying that certain foreign policy circles in the US believe the US should unofficially recognize the North of Cyprus in a deal that would vouchsafe Turkey's cooperation East of its borders.

In any discussion of negotiations, the terminology used is key. You say the Cypriot gov't reneged. That term is loaded. They never agreed to the Annan Plan 5 in the first place, especially since it was conjured up by outside powerful interests that didn't have the island's best interests in mind. Second, you call it an olive branch, even though Annan 5 was very different from Annan 3, in which Turkish concessions were writ largely. Much as Europeans are respecting the recent referenda on the EU constitution, the southern Cypriot side is merely asking for the same respect. 76% of the people voted against it precisely because it was an awful deal for them.

Seriously, no "deal" was reached with Annan 5 as you put it. In fact, the two sides were once again unable to negotiate a deal. The actual vote was on a plan conjured up by Annan, the US and Great Britain.

by Upstate NY on Tue Jun 14th, 2005 at 07:47:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The agreement was not with the Annan solution as such but the implicit contract with the EU15 was that the Cypriot government would negotiate in good faith and enure the whole island joined. Unfortuantely that was not written in the precise terms that you (they) demeand should have been in the Annan documents. If it had been, accession would have been stopped or delayed until the agreement had been reached. There is in fact a strong argument that by failing to properly settle the matter they have not yet fully implemented the acquis and therefore their accession treaty is null and void.

If you are arguing that "powerful outside interests" should not be involved, are you in favour of the UN pulling out completely? In which case the British forces will withdraw from the island leaving the two sides to sort it out for themselves - which would inevitably lead to bloodshed.

Your analogy with the French and Dutch referenda on the Constiturional Treaty are fallacious.  The refusals had far less to do with the issues surrounding the treaty and much more to do with national politics. If there is a comparison it would appear to be that those in favour of a no vote misrepresent the provisions.    

by Londonbear on Wed Jun 15th, 2005 at 04:30:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They did negotiate in good faith. It was Annan who didn't negotiate in good faith. Annan knew from Annan Plan 3 that the Greek Cypriots were very willing to concede the rights vouchsafed to them by the Aquis. The Acquis Communitaire also contains a bill of rights. The Greek cypriots willingly conceded to forego many of the rights therein. When the two sides didn't come to an agreement after negotiations in Annan 5, Annan took it upon himself to alter the document, and he largely wiped out many of the Turkish concessions. I'll ask you: do you know which Turkish concessions were wiped out in Annan 5? Why did Annan do this?

I have no idea how you can argue that Cyprus' accession to the EU is null and void. That just boggles the mind. They are in. Surely you know that accession for the entire 10 new EU countries would have been VETO'd entirely had Cyprus not joined. The argument goes like this: why should a democratic European country be punished from acceding to the EU just because a foreign army has invaded it? That's a pretty compelling argument, especially when you consider that Cyprus has a strong economy and is a NET contributor to the EU.

No one is in favor of the UN pulling out. The Greek Cypriots are in favor of a plan that looks more like Annan 3 (which contains both Turkish and Greek Cypriot concessions) as opposed to Annan 5 (which contains mainly Greek concessions).

As for the British leaving Cyprus, oh how I wish that were true. But it will not happen under any circumstances, unfortunately. You see, they have military bases there, and really that's what the conflict is all about. The Western powers do not want to give up this unsinkable battleship, and they have maintained sovereignty over the island by artificially dividing the Cypriots on it. Divide and Conquer so they can keep their bases. Hitchens' Cyprus book makes this argument pretty clear.

As for your last line, can you be more clear? I have no idea what you're getting at. Can you be more specific?

by Upstate NY on Wed Jun 15th, 2005 at 05:09:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually in Cyprus the British ARE the UN in terms of patrollingthe Green Line. It would in fact be entiely possible for them to withdraw to the bases and let the two sides get on with it. The bases there have very little stategic importance but do make considerable contributions to the Cypriot economy both directly and by  increasing tourism.

The problem with the aquis compliance is the question of the rights of the northern Cypriots who do not have right of abode in the south. As you rightly state, in international law northern Cyprus has no legal status and therefore the citixens are EU citixens (although arguably the Turkish immigrants since the invasion and their children do not have this status). As full compliance with the aquis is required before admission, the Cypriot government have breached those terms and therefore they have breached treaty requirements.

The Greek Cypriot government most certainly were obstructive in the negotiations which is why the final compromise was not to their liking. As you seem to have bought in entirely to their propoganda on this, it is probably unproductive to argue the toss on this point much further.  

YOu make the point that the referendum result in the south should be respected. The same could well be said of the north which voted for the agreement. There are huge outstanding problems of residence and property rights than need to be resolved. The northern population had reservations about the the final outcome and  how it would work in practice. They were willing to put aside their worries and take what was a real risk. The south, as you indicate, quibbled and wanted  every i dotted and t crossed in the agreement when these could have been resolved after a yes vote.    

by Londonbear on Wed Jun 15th, 2005 at 08:58:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We have to disagree on the strategic importance of the bases. I would point you to the Downing Street Memos, which in 2002 underlined the importance of the bases. The invasion of Iraq pinpointed Cyprus as one of the two most important bases for its execution. Many military commentators have oft-cited Cyprus' military strategic benefits for its proximity to the Middle East (a stone's throw away).

You are mistaken about the Annan plan. I suggest you look up the terms. It's the Greek Cypriots who would absolutely love full compliance with the Acquis Communitaire. If the EU and UN would grant them that, they would have signed on 40 years ago. In fact, the Greek Cypriots agreed to much less than the rights granted to all other EU members, when they accepted less property rights and restrictions on freedom of movement and work privileges in Annan 3. Annan 5 went much further in violating the Acquis Communitaire, and for that reason it was rejected.

In point of fact, the property controversy in Cyprus mainly addresses the loss of Greek Cypriot property in the North after the Greeks were removed from the north by the Turkish Army in 1974. See the Loizidou case in the European court of Human Rights which ruled in favor of a private citizen regaining her property rights. For its part, the Cypriot gov't has stated that Turkish Cypriots can regain their properties in the south upon unification. This is part of the Annan plan. They can move south. That same right is not given to 50% of the Greek Cypriots who own land in the North. Only 50% will be reimbursed and/or retain the property rights.

I'm afraid you have the positions of the North and South exactly reversed.

Can you be specific about the compromises that you are referring to in Annan 5? Let's cut to the chase and talk about specifics. You say the Greek Cypriots did not like the final compromise. What did Turkey compromise on? What was not to the Greek's liking?

Your last paragraph is a good one. Since the actual Annan 5 agreement violated the Acquis Communitaire, no one actually knows how much of it would have stood the test of time, given the legal ramifications of joining the EU. It could be the Greek Cypriot side erred, and that had they accepted it, the Annan 5 plan would have been null and void regardless. However, it's clear the Greek Cypriots were not very willing to take that risk. If I lived on the island, I'm not sure I would have. Even clearer, given last week's referendums in France and Holland, there is no longer any guarantee that Turkey is bound to join the EU, and thus the requirement for Turkey to ascribe to EU laws isn't a strong stick either. They might have insisted on the Anti-EU provisions of Annan 5 regardless. Obviously, Turkey, if it were to remain a non-EU entity, would not have to attend to EU laws.

by Upstate NY on Wed Jun 15th, 2005 at 10:16:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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