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Both Cyprus And The E.U. January 4, 2010

Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Turkey.
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Speaking at a ceremony in Lefkosa late week marking the 26th anniversary of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek said that if some people are thinking that it’s ‘either Cyprus or the EU,’ Turkey’s choice will forever be the Turkish Cypriots, and everyone should understand this. What caused Cicek to say this? Must Turkey make such a choice? What did he mean by ‘some people’ and ‘everyone’? It seems his messages were meant for three different audiences. The first is the European Union. Actually one can’t say now that the EU has to make a choice between Cyprus and Turkey. But the Greek Cypriot administration is always trying to take advantage of its EU membership.

In this respect, the next month will be critical. Ankara will again be asked to fulfill its pledge to open Turkish harbors and airports to the Greek Cypriots. Turkey has already declared that it wouldn’t comply. So what will the EU do then? Will it break off or suspend our membership talks? All signs say this won’t happen. But Cicek’s statement in Lefkosa was actually a warning. In other words, it signaled how Ankara will act if the EU makes the wrong move.

He was also speaking to the Turkish Cypriots. Things are different now, but we shouldn’t forget that five years ago some 65% of Turkish Cypriots voted yes for then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s reunification plan. The main factor in this stance of the Turkish side was the EU motivation. In other words, they hoped the entire island would join the EU and so Turks would also benefit from EU membership. This hope fell through, as the Greek Cypriot side rejected the plan by 76%. But certain Turkish Cypriots still want to join the EU somehow through a resolution. TRNC President Mehmet Ali Talat’s efforts are aimed at this. But any solution of course aims at an agreement under set parameters. As Cicek said, his statements are directed at those trying to make Cyprus an obstacle to Turkey’s EU bid. But he also showed Turkey’s directing and even determining stance and the priority of its own national interests. Furthermore, he showed that if it has to make a choice, Turkey can give up the EU without any hesitation.

Finally, he was also speaking to the Greek Cypriot administration. As I said above, the Greek side is trying to use the EU as a tool in Turkey’s membership talks with the EU, and with this self-confidence is being uncompromising in Cyprus talks. Cicek effectively said that if you’re trying to use Turkey’s EU bid to corner us, you should know that Turkey can give up the EU, but will never forsake the TRNC. I hope Turkey won’t be forced to make a choice. The right thing and the best thing for everybody is both Cyprus and the EU. In other words, a solution to the Cyprus issue and the full EU membership… I think this is still the goal of Turkish diplomacy.

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Rompuy opposed Turkey’s EU membership November 24, 2009

Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union.
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Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy. AFP photo
Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy.

As the European Union’s 27 government leaders met Thursday for dinner and tough diplomatic battles over the bloc’s president and foreign policy supremo, it was revealed that new EU president was once a vocal critic of Turkey’s EU membership.

Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy said in 2004 that he strongly opposed Turkey’s EU accession, reported EU Observer on its Web site, an independent Web site from Brussels. “Turkey is not a part of Europe and will never be part of Europe,” Rompuy said. Rompuy’s opposition was based on Europe’s Christian “fundamental values,” he said in a meeting of the Council of Europe in the Belgian parliament in 2004.

“An expansion of the EU to include Turkey cannot be considered as just another expansion as in the past. The universal values which are in force in Europe, and which are also fundamental values of Christianity, will lose vigor with the entry of a large Islamic country such as Turkey.”

According to the EU Observer, the speech has remained relatively unknown. Belgian officials, however, confirmed that the speech was made but noted that the comments were made when Rompuy was part of the opposition.

“Things that are said in opposition are different from what you find yourself saying when in government,” one official said. “Serious politics, however, is to judge someone by what they say and do when in power.”

“If we ruled out all the politicians that had said awkward things in the past, we’d have a very short list indeed,” said another official.

Greek Cyprus rejects Turkey’s proposal for five-way talks November 20, 2009

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Cypriot president Dimitris Christofias, right, and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Mehmet Ali Talat. AP photo
Cypriot president Dimitris Christofias, right, and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Mehmet Ali Talat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greek Cyprus rejected a proposal by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a five-party conference, under United Nations supervision, to speed up a solution for the war-divided island.

 

“They want a new Burgenstock and of course new arbitration in order for pressures to be exerted on the Greek Cypriot side to accept solutions that are not new,” Greek Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias said, according to a statement posted on the Cyprus Press Ministry Web site.

A quintet summit means the downgrading of the Greek Cyprus and the country will accept neither strict timeframes, nor arbitration, Christofias said, according to a report by Bloomberg.

Burgenstock was the Swiss town that was the site of U.N.-led discussions in 2004 that aimed to find a way to end the division of Cyprus.

Reconciliation talks between the Turkish Cypriot President Talat and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Christofias were launched last year by the United Nations. Talks under Alexander Downer, the former Australian foreign minister, who is the U.N. envoy to negotiations, have made significant progress in a number of areas.

However, momentum has slowed as a looming election due to be in held in the Turkish territory next April overshadows the meeting. Turkish voters are deeply disillusioned with the south’s unequal position. The Turkish Cypriot President since 2005, Mehmet Ali Talat, favors reunification and membership of the EU for the whole island but his rivals disagree with him.

A five-party summit on Cyprus would involve the east Mediterranean island’s Greek and Turkish-speaking sides as well as Turkey, Greece and the U.K., who are all guarantor powers of Cyprus under a 1960 accord that led to the country’s independence from British colonial rule.

The U.K. made an offer to the United Nations to make available just under 50 percent of the territory of its Sovereign Base Areas on the island to a unified Cyprus in the event of a solution, U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Nov. 11 after a meeting in London with the Greek Cypriot President.

There are two British bases in the British sovereign territory on Cyprus. Akrotiri, which hosts the only RAF station on the Mediterranean, is located in Greek Cyprus, while Dhekelia is on the Turkish side. According to the terms of the offer, the Greek and Turkish leadership would decide the proportion of territory transferred out of British control by themselves.

Greek-Turkish reunification talks in Cyprus still on hold November 20, 2009

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The Greek part of Cyprus rejected a proposal submitted by Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an for a five-party conference, to be held under United Nations supervision, over the future of the divided island. According to the Cyprus Press Ministry, Greek Cypriotic President Dimitris Christofias rejected the proposal on the grounds that it would only repeat the 2004 experience, when UN-chaired discussions were aimed at pressing the Greek side to accept an imposed solution within a very short time frame and without further amendments. The proposal had been turned down in a referendum by the Greek Cypriot community, as it failed to recognize the right of Greek citizens to return to the properties from which they had been evicted during the 1974 events.

Christofias is reported to have firmly rejected the idea of a quintet summit, arguing that the involvement of all five sides – the island’s Greek and Turkish-speaking communities alongside Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom – would downgrade Greek Cyprus. The 1960 accords that led to Cyprus’ independence from British colonial rule recognized a guarantor’s role for the UK, which still operates important military bases on the island.

Momentum for a resumption of talks over the reunification of Cyprus had built up following an offer made by the United Kingdom to the United Nations, to make available nearly 50 percent of the territory of the UK Sovereign Base Areas on the island in the event of a solution leading to the reunification of Cyprus. There are two British bases on Cyprus, considered a British sovereign enclave: Akrotiri, which hosts the only RAF station on the Mediterranean, is located in Greek Cyprus and Dhekelia is on the Turkish side. According to the terms of the offer, the Greek and Turkish leadership would decide the proportion of territory transferred out of British control by themselves.

The issue however lost momentum under the impact of upcoming election scheduled to be in held in the Turkish community next April. The Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat favours reunification of the island and a European Union membership for a reunified Cyprus, while the opposition disagrees with that position.

Talat: Differences continue with Greek Cypriots in property topic November 17, 2009

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President Mehmet Ali Talat of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said that differences in principle continued with Greek Cypriot administration in discussions over property issue.

Talat, who met with Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias on Tuesday within the scope of negotiations to find a solution for Cyprus question, told reporters that they took up property issue today, and decided experts to continue working about the issue.

Talat said that he would hold another meeting with Christofias on November 20, and they would assess the negotiations they had been held so far.

Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders launched Cyprus talks in September 2008 in an effort to find a solution to the Cyprus issue. The first round of the talks was completed on August 6, 2009. And the second round started on September 10.