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Cyprus solution more elusive than ever.

by Upstate NY Tue Sep 20th, 2005 at 03:27:11 PM EST

promoted by Jerome. I was going to make a comment that the title was no longer appropriate, as the EU had finally agreed to a common declaration outlining some ground rules for the negotations with Turkey (making recognition of Cyprus a prerequisite and requesting that it take place as soon as possible). But it now appears that the declaration has been withheld today, as Cyprus is apparently still asking for a firm deadline for such recognition, with a review of the topic in 2006. So, back to "elusive"...

Don't hold your breath

I was looking for an open thread to post this since I don't have extensive comments. However, a diary will do. At the UN meetings in NY, Annan, the Cyprus Pres and the Turkish PM have met a few times. From this article it is obvious that they are decades away from a solution. The two countries disagree on the most basic elements of a solution. Never mind the particulars such as property rights, freedom of movement and the occupation army, they disagree on the basic structure of a new country.

Even as someone who follows all news on the Cyprus problem, I was very perplexed by this. While the two sides were close to agreeing on the Annan Plan (5 different Annan plans set the structural parameters for union over the last 5 years) this talk by both sides seems to diverge from any semblance of agreement. Maybe this is talk for domestic consumption? But usually the opposite happens at the UN. International platitudes are spoken whether one believes them or not.

Update: Just as an FYI, the Cyprus solution I refer to in this diary relates to negotiations over the unification of Cyprus. That seems more elusive than it has in a long time. The customs union discussions in Brussels right now are quite another story. Agreement, after much wrangling, seems very possible. Cyprus had asked for recognition prior to negotiations and has since come off that. The UK insisted that Ankara not be required to implement the customs union with regard to Cyprus, and they have come off that. There are other little details that need further address. I expect it will happen. Another Update: the link to the original article is gone. In the original article, Turkish PM Erdogan told Annan and Cypriot Pres. Papadapoulos that the only Cyprus solution acceptable to Turkey is a two-state solution with only a figurehead nominal union. This is not the Greek Cypriots vision at all. That was the essence of the article I linked to. Essentially, they are farther apart than they were in Annan 1, Annan 2, Annan 3, Annan 4, Annan 5. In fact, quite perversely, the more that Greeks and Turks talk about Cyprus, the further apart they are on the particulars. It's perverse.

I'll comment later...kinda into the Germany stuff...but thank you for your yeoman's work on the ongoing Eastern Mediterranean isses.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sun Sep 18th, 2005 at 12:40:25 PM EST
The Greek Cypriots rejected the Annan plan for solving the conflict. That made the Turks more hardline since it undercut the moderates who had supported compromise. The Greek Cypriots had some valid complaints, but the problem is that not only is a solution pushed well into the future, but they are now effectively dependent on the EU approving Turkish membership for any better solution. (The only carrot big enough for the Turks to agree to anything more is membership.) I'm not so sure that counting on French voters supporting Turkish EU membership is all that reliable a plan.
by MarekNYC on Sun Sep 18th, 2005 at 01:04:11 PM EST
I agree with most of what you write. Unfortunately, the Greeks do not think this is a big gamble. That's how bad they believed the deal to be. In other words, no deal was better than a deal, as far as the interests of Cyprus go. They very well know that there may never be a solution but even that is preferable to many of them. Turkey is still locked in to some international covenants. The Cyprus problem, without a solution will continue to pester them. Consider, for instance, the Loizidou case. She won over a million dollars from Turkey in a European court, and Turkey has had to put her money in escrow pending a resolution of the Cyprus problem. Since all international bodies have sided with the Greek Cypriots on the Cyprus troubles, the Southerners have plenty of ammunition for legal war.

As for the rejection of the Annan Plan, the Turks and the British have done a magnificent job of spinning the press on it. The Greek cypriots have lost that battle absolutely. But, if you do want to dig a little deeper, you can go to the UN's page on the Cyprus negotiations and read about them in depth. You'll find that the Turkish side rejected the first four Annan plans. The Greek Cypriot public voted against the 5th one by a margin of more than 3 to 1. Logically, it makes no sense for the Greek Cypriots to be labeled rejectionists or to emphasize the rejection of the last plan over the others. In fact, such a label in and of itself betrays a bias (that the last plan was the best plan).

by Upstate NY on Sun Sep 18th, 2005 at 06:25:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right. As I said in another post of yours, Upstate, Greece and the rest of the EU would have done Cyprus and themsleves a fundamental favor by postponing Cyprus's admission until after the Cyprus mess had been solved. Now Turkey can blackmail the EU for admission in return for the end of the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus. But the EU will not bite. Pretty situation, it is not. Greece and Cyprus were less tactful than they thought. Shortsighted in fact, with regard to themselves and the rest of Europe. And not only a no-vote in a referendum in France will turn everything on its head. Other countries will do the same, unless the mood changes substantially in the coming ten years. A Merkel Germany can add substantially to the negatives. And the what the U.S. pushes for is now irrelevant.
by Quentin on Sun Sep 18th, 2005 at 04:36:09 PM EST
I don't understand your logic at all. I am not writing this as an insult. I am truly scratching my head. The EU had no choice but to admit Cyprus. No choice whatsoever. Read Claire Palley's work, "An International Relations Debacle: The UN Secretary-General's Mission of Good Offices in Cyprus 1999-2004," for more info on this. If Cyprus's admission had been postponed, Turkey would have no incentive whatsoever to negotiate a settlement. There's hardly any incentive now. Without the threat of Cyprus's veto, Turkey bothers not a second with the Cyprus problem. I don't know what you mean by Turkish blackmail. nor do I know what you mean by Greece's shortsightedness. The choices right now are pretty simple. Turkey must allow Cypriot ships and planes the right of passage, by 2006 at the latest. Turkey must recognize Cyprus as part of its negotiation process.  If Turkey does not do these things, its' European avocation ends. this is all because Cyprus entered the EU. If Turkey walks away from the EU, then the IMF and World Bank will pressure it economically the same way they pressured the former Yugoslavia, and furthermore Turkey will continue to fund Northern Cyprus as it has for the few decades, an enormous drain on Turkish resources, especially at a time when Turkey's eastern border is causing all sorts of headaches which will require a significant investment.
by Upstate NY on Sun Sep 18th, 2005 at 06:18:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I meant 'blackmail' in the sense of 'extortion', 'if you don't do as I like I'll bash your head in.' Of course this is unfair because Greece was completely within its right to threaten rejection of the enlargement if Cyprus was not allowed in. Well, so much for that. In Europe, however, there was much discussion and concern about Cyprus joining in the circumstances. Probably no country was opposed to its entry as a matter of policy, but just the fact that Greece felt the need to act so forcefully confirms a general sense of unease. You can say, though, that Greece acted outside the EU spirit of limited confrontation between countries.

'Who in their right mind would want to take on the headache Cyprus poses?' I remember reading that somewhere. The EU has always supported a unified Cyprus and rejected the Turkish occupation. Right. But now it has become an actual party to the conflict. Even though entire Cyprus was admitted, with EU regulations pertaining now only to the southern part (I think that is the bureaucratic formulation, correct if I am wrong), a line drawn to separate fighting parties now forms a small effective border of the EU. Again: who in their right mind would let such unpleasantness into their home before ensuring that a solution was in sight?

Now the EU has absolutely no leverage over Cyprus, which, in its turn, can accept and reject whatever it chooses, like the accession of Turkey. The EU probably hoped that the Greek Cypriots would roll over and accept the last proposal for reunification. Why did the EU not choose to leave Cyprus out and put it and Turkey under immense pressure? Is it because Cyprus is right? I have no idea. To that I would add that emotions and considerations of ethnicity and religion must have driven the EU decision, which is deplorable.

I remember Verhagen saying explicitly on the BBC World Service, after the Greek Cypriot rejection of the referendum on reunification, I think, that 'we' made a mistake by letting Cyprus in. I have never heard an EU official give such a candid, personal opinion on an issue, especially someone who was responsible for the policy itself. If he changed his story later, he probably did so under pressure from Cyprus, Greece and other countries and officials. Something so   unambiguous may not be said in public. Dirty laundry and all that.

Turkey is not comparable to the former Yugoslavia which was on its knees. That is to underestimate Turkey's say in the world, especially the Middle East, its now special relation with Israel, and its standing among U.S. policy makers, despite the disagreement about Iraq. If the IMF and the World Bank step in, they will make matters worse everywhere. Turkey will not capitulate. Do not underestimate their tenacity on all fronts. The U.S. will not let Turkey suffer. The U.S. wants Turkey in the EU. Turkey's growing importance is its trump card.

What's going on on Turkey's eastern border? I haven't heard anything about that.

by Quentin on Mon Sep 19th, 2005 at 09:30:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
P.S. It will be interesting to see how Turkey reacts to the 2006 deadline. Formally negotiations are not supposed to begin at the beginning of October unless Turkey recognized Cyprus. Or am I wrong? Finesse it, they say.
by Quentin on Mon Sep 19th, 2005 at 09:33:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, Turkey does not have to recognize Cyprus before negotiations. Even Cyprus is agreed to this by now. They might not like it but they have not objected officially.

The customs union has to be enacted by 2006. That's the killer right there. Before Turkey banned Cyprus flagged ships from its ports two years ago, Cyprus had the fourth largest fleet in the world. These are not ships affiliated with the gov't of Cyprus, but foreign ships that choose to incorporate in Cyprus. In two years, foreign operators have been leaving Cyprus because of Turkey's ban. The fleet has been reduced by over 70% and is killing one of Cyprus's biggest industries. If this continues, Cyprus--which is now a net contributor to the EU--will become another mouth to feed. Furthermore, not only did Turkey ban Cypriot flagged ships from its ports, but it banned any ships whose log showed a port of call in Cyprus. So ships had to avoid Cyprus altogether.

Turkey states that it refuses to change it policy on this, and that any demands on Turkey constitute a new condition for negotiations. Given the former Finnish Pres's Ahtasaari's defense of this position recently, the Greek Cypriots know very well that not only are Turkey's demands unreasonable and mendacious (how can Turkey say they support a customs union when they are practicing economic warfare against an EU member?) but that there are plenty of Europeans who are willing to give cover to obvious Turkish games.

by Upstate NY on Mon Sep 19th, 2005 at 01:46:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I think your post here is well reasoned and we agree on a lot of stuff. Frankly, many states support Greece and Cyprus because like Greece and Cyprus they are small and don't have much interest in a weak EU that does nothing for them except bosses them around. The EU has to stand for something. If all the EU does is try to avoid problems then it's just a weak farcical facade of a union. Diplomacy is there for a reason. It's not only Greece that gave Cyprus backing. A whole slew of smaller countries did.

Verheugen's time at the helm was a colossal failure. Palley really reams him in her book. I can name for you a variety of diplomatic missteps by Verheugen. It's his fault that everything turned out so badly in the first place. We all know that Cyprus was getting into the EU because of Greece's insistence. So what did Verheugen do? He completely enabled the subversion of Annan Plan 1-4 and took out any beneficial provisions for Cyprus. Why? In order to get the Turks to vote for it. Meanwhile the Greek FM was telling him all along that the Cypriot Greek citizens would not go for it. Say what you want about the Cyprus President but over 75% voted against the Annan Plan 5. Whereas in the three years earlier Annan Plans 1-4 were all approved. Verheugen, in his desire to cut a deal amenable to Turkey, ended up killing one of the last chances for a solution. And not only that, he improted the problem into the EU. He could have just as easily left Annan Plan 4 well enough alone (read the UN website's judgment of negotiations on the 4 previous Annan plans). Given recent statements in New York, there may never be another chance. It's his fault and Annan's fault that the EU is in this mess.

What I would have done: sent up Annan 3 or 4 to the voters and let them decide. On the Cypriot Greek side it would have been approved.

The EU allowed Cyprus in simply because Greece insisted that the EU stick to its principles. It's as simple as that.

by Upstate NY on Mon Sep 19th, 2005 at 01:38:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is remarkable that Turkey banned Cyprus-registered ships and ships stopping in Cyprus from it ports ONLY two years ago when it was approaching the EU's decision about negotiating membership. The cheek! From your remark about the Finnish president I conclude he covered for Turkey; or have I misunderstood? What was the EU principle that Greece was upholding: equal rights of countries no matter size? Otherwise I don't get the remark. Yes, Europe will cover for Turkey. It is almost as if Turkey dictates the EU, turning it into an anxious suitor. Imagine if Turkey refuses to join our club, rejecting us? Tonight I heard on the BBC World Service's Europe Today some man-in-the-street statements of Berliners: most agreed that Turkey was not ready to join, maybe ten or fifteen years from now. Why do people think that such a strong, nationalistic country will change to fit their image and why in such a short time?

The Ohran Pamuk affair sort of sums it up: superficial change. I didn't realize Verheugen botched up things so horribly. Was he under pressure from Schroeder who is one of the EU's main supporters of Turkish membership?

Anyhow, it well be interesting to see how the ship issue plays out. Just finesse it.

by Quentin on Mon Sep 19th, 2005 at 03:52:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Greece was simply holding up the principle that a country has a right not to be invaded. That's pretty much the basis for any defense of Cyprus.

As for the Finnish Preesident, I was very disappointed. When people talk of putting no additional conditions to Turkey in the context of Cyprus, they are deliberately ignoring the fact that Turkey has not met the first condition for negotiations: a customs union.

As for Verheugen, I think he probably did what all diplomats would have done. These people are creatures of negotiations. They try to gauge how much countries are willing to give, and then they act accordingly. I believe that as a diplomat you have to have principles as well. It's not all about cutting deals. Compromise AND principles. These are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

This is what Verheugen did: He realized that in the first four rounds of negotiations the Greek Cypriots were for unification and that the Turks were against it. Since the Greek Cypriots were more enthusiastic about it, he figured the Greek Cypriots were more willing to give up concessions. The Greek Cypriot diplomats were amateurish buffoons when they agreed to Verheugen's and Annan's request to put a UN-tailored Annan Plan 5 to a binding referendum. The Greek Cypriots agreed, thinking that the UN and Verheugen would tailor an agreement that took both sides' concerns into account. Instead, knowing that both sides were committed to a referendum, the agreement was heavily tilted toward Turkey in order to foster an easier accession for Turkey into the EU. The diplomats knew that Cyprus would have to accept it or else risk losing all claims to the North. In other words, the referendum was a loaded gun pointing at the Greek Cypriots.

Now, this may seem like a smart thing for Verheugen to do because it effectively removes the Cyprus problem as a barrier to Turkey's entry. Last December, only Cyprus was perturbed by Turkey's stances against Cyprus regarding shipping and recognition. (There are also other massive problems such as the inability of NATO to meet with the EU's common defense because Turkey refuses to share NATO resources with Cyprus, and the EU cannot meet NATO without Cyprus). All the other countries except for Greece had isolated Cyprus because its citizens had voted against the Annan 5 deal. Cyprus could not really veto Turkey's entry in the future because it is a small country and because it has no control over the north. The EU may collectively even decide to recognize the north as a separate state if it deems the Greek Cypriots intransigent, even though this would violate UN resolutions initially. Thus, Cyprus was really castrated in dealing with Turkey.

But Verheugen was too clever by half. When the French and Dutch referendums returned a not so enthusiastic verdict on expansion, and with Austria, the Czechs and some Germans expressing doubt, then suddenly Cyprus's interests became topical again. The EU and UN diplomats did not foresee a time when Cyprus would have some backers in France, Austria, Greece and the Czechs. Thus, by not solving the Cyprus problem with a referendum on the order of Annan 1-4, the problem was imported into the EU. A year ago there was more consensus on Turkey. But now that that consensus has eroded, suddenly other EU members are just now realizing that Cyprus has a right to be recognized and a right to pursue unfettered trade.

Suddenly, the sanctity of EU principles are evoked. Compare Chirac's stance last December to his current one. Chirac was one of the most belligerent actors toward Cyprus months ago. And now--due to Verheugen's shortsightedness--he has a card to play. He's a Cyprus backer. The declaration on Cyprus that's to be agreed upon this week largely came about because of France's demands. The UK had no intention of including anything in the framework that addressed either the eventual recognition of Cyprus (many years down the road) nor the implementation of the customs union to every member.

by Upstate NY on Mon Sep 19th, 2005 at 11:06:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'Greece was simply holding up the principle that a country has a right not to be invaded. That's pretty much the basis for any defense of Cyprus.'
- Is that so? Wasn't Greece (also) supporting a branch of the family?

'Turkey has not met the first condition for negotiations: a customs union.'
- I thought Turkey has adopted the customs union but has still fo implement it in the case of Cyprus.

The basis of diplomacy is 'compromise AND principles. These are not necessarily mutually exclusive.'

  • Greece would doubtless have made everyone much happier if it had applied more compromise and less principle.

  • If what you say is right, which I assume it is, Verheugen was not only a bad diplomat but actually negotiated in bad faith, in the sense that he betrayed the Greek Cypriots.

  • The meaning of the following escapes me:
'Now, this may seem like a smart thing for Verheugen to do because it effectively removes the Cyprus problem as a barrier to Turkey's entry.'

The NATO impasse between NATO and the EU's common defense is absurd. You can only wonder in what spirit Turkey is negotiating.
'All the other countries except for Greece had isolated Cyprus because its citizens had voted against the Annan 5 deal.'
- They can only honestly blame themselves for their shortsightedness and glaring stupidity. The plan was obviously a dud:

'All the other countries except for Greece had isolated Cyprus because its citizens had voted against the Annan 5 deal.'
- In fact, Greece should have set the terms of Cypriot accession with regard to Turkey and then have threatened to veto the enlargement if it and the Greek Cypriots were dissatisfied.

Yes, nowadays there is less general support for Turkey's accession to the EU.

Don't waste time on Jacques Chirac's antics: he must be the longest reigning whore Europe has ever seen.

'The UK had no intention of including anything in the framework that addressed either the eventual recognition of Cyprus (many years down the road) nor the implementation of the customs union to every member.'
- The UK is a fanatical supporter of Turkey: another big country on the UK's side and, in turn, on the USA's, in oppostion to some mainland countries. Maybe Turkey should be admitted and the UK expelled.

Now see: news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4265140.stm
Things are getting rocky. The UK is having one a hell of an EU presidency!

by Quentin on Tue Sep 20th, 2005 at 02:51:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Turkey's invasion of Cyprus has been denounced by everyone including the UN. It makes no sense for anyone to demand that Cyprus solve its border problem. Actually, that suggestion is absurd. It actually calls for Cyprus to annihilate the occupying Turkish Army. Tjhat would certainly solve the problem? Since the solution imposed by Turkey is a military one, how can you counter that solution except by military means? Did the EU--back in 1997--counse Cyprus to start a war and rid itself of the Turkish military? That's the logic of that demand.

Your second question about the customs union contains an internal contradiction. How can you adopt something without implementing it? I don't understand.

As for Greece and compromise, can you yourself name a single compromise from Turkey in the Annan Plan?

Verhuegen tried to protect his countries interest in Turkey accession. He obviously did no favors for Cyprus, but he also--in hindsight--did no favors for the EU. Of course, his realpolitikal mindset is defensible because he could not have foreseen the results of the French and Dutch referenda. Again, Verheugen's ploy looks naked now only because Chirac has done a 180 degree spin from his position last December. That's why I said Verheugen effectively removed Cyprus as a barrier. That was the gameplan, if you ask me. Put an unattractive package on the table for the Cypriots. If they accept it, Turkey's in. If they reject it, then Cyprus is blamed and they are effectively ignored, as they have been up until recent months. It's win-win for the Pro-Turkey wing.

Greece is trying to thread the eye of the needle, as is the Turkish gov't. They need to pull Turkey closer to Europe while at the same time preserving Cypriot rights. A veto effectively destroys Greece's foreign policy. That's why Greece has no veto when it comes to Turkish negotiations.

by Upstate NY on Tue Sep 20th, 2005 at 08:36:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]

'It makes no sense for anyone to demand that Cyprus solve its border problem.'
- Did I say that? Who did? Maybe you misunderstood something I wrote. Of course Cyprus cannot solve the problem themselves. A military solution is out of the question. Right. Has anyone suggested it? If it ever happens, an EU country would be at war with an EU applicant country. As pointed out, this is the conflict the EU has willed upon itself!

'How can you adopt something [i.e. customs union] without implementing it?'
Simply by lying about your intentions to implement it. Anyone can say I'll do it, I've done it, and not do it. Ever heard of WMD?

'Greece and compromise'.
By 'compromise' I meant that Greece, however right in principle, supporting a small country which had been invaded, might been more clever if it had decided to compromise and postpone Cyprus's entry until the conflict was settled. Can you see how much clearer everything would today be if Cyprus was not an EU member?

'Verhuegen tried to protect his countries interest in Turkey accession.'
What are the interests of the EU in Turkey's accession. As far as I can see, a large number of potential consumers and, perhaps -- because things change -- cheaper goods, agricultural and industrial, as well as a large source of relatively cheap labor. Money.

'He obviously did no favors for Cyprus, but he also--in hindsight--did no favors for the EU.'
Nor for Turkey you might add, considering Chirac's antics and the mood (hard to judge with certainty) about Turkey's membership. By the way, the Turkish question is not necessarily the main reason why French and Netherlands referendums were rejected. Rather the voters were, in my view, registering general annoyance at their own countries and the EU's absolutely obfuscatory governance. For instance, has the EU adequately explained to the public its manic obsession with expansion, specifically Turkey. I would like to take a survey and ask: Have you always thought of Turkey as a European country or when was the first time did? The snake in the grass: the EU and Europe do not necessarily coinicide. But the EU has made no effort to explain this either.

'That was the gameplan, if you ask me. Put an unattractive package on the table for the Cypriots. If they accept it, Turkey's in. If they reject it, then Cyprus is blamed and they are effectively ignored...'
Yes, an irrational madness in favor of Turkey prevails somewhere deep in the bowels of the EU.

'They [i.e. Greece]need to pull Turkey closer to Europe while at the same time preserving Cypriot rights.'
I don't see why Greece 'needs to pull Turkey closer'. Instead it might see closer ties with Turkey as an economic advantage, which they are.

Cyprus seems now to have demanded that Turkey deliver the goods: recognition. I think this is now the only way forward, and the EU must support Cyprus unconditionally. No matter what happened in the Cyprus referendum and whatever anyone thinks about it, the EU has first an obligation to a member state.

How can the EU defend Turkey's refusal to recognize Cyprus and its unwillingness to implement the customs union? The EU is afraid to confront Turkey, as if Turkey will end the relationship and go somewhere else. The EU does not realize its own potential to dictate terms. The EU's nearly sycophantic attitude seems almost to betray feelings of guilt: and at this point I tune out because all the opinions and emotions connected with history, religion, social customs raise their heads.

The conflicts in Cyprus, Kashmir and Palestine have been going on for my entire life or most of my life. Who can deny that such opinions and emotions are not at the root of things? Today the money stands out more prominently, however.

I really have nothing more to say about this issue. I'll read any reply you post but I won't have time in the coming weeks to respond. Write another diary about Cyprus when the next stage begins: negotiations. I'm looking forward to it.

by Quentin on Wed Sep 21st, 2005 at 11:10:14 AM EST
My reply will be short. We agree on most of this.

Without Cyprus's accession to the EU, there is no attempt for a Cyprus solution. I firmly believe this. Otherwise, Turkey has absolutely no incentive and that's why Greece pushed for Cyprus's entry.

As for Greece's interest in Turkey becoming an EU member, it would solve a whole host of problems betweent he two countries. Remember, Turkey and Greece almost went to war in 1997 over an island near Rhodes. Turkey claims areas of the Aegean for itself while Greece has always said, let's take it to international or EU courts for mediation. I'm sure the Greeks are confident in their postiion and that's why they are looking to the courts. Turkey also claims Gavdos as a Turkish island. Gavdos is south of Crete.

These are thorny problems for Greece.

As for economics, both Greece and Turkey have started building out pipelines in to the Ionian/Adriatic which will provide Europe mainly with natural gas.

by Upstate NY on Wed Sep 21st, 2005 at 10:00:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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