27th Jan 2020

Turkish to become EU language if deal on Cyprus is reached

Turkish will be added to the list of EU official languages if an agreement on the division of Cyprus is reached.

The Commission spokesperson for enlargement told EUobserver that if a solution is found, Turkish will immediately become an EU official language. "There will be no need of formal proposals. It will be automatic", he said.

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  • Turkish - the EU's 21st language? (Photo: EUobserver)

Moreover, the EU "acquis" - the body of legislation - is already being translated in Turkish.

Greek and Turkish are both official languages of the island, where, out of a population of over 750,000, around 200,000 live in the Turkish occupied north.

But if the island remains divided, EU law will only apply to the southern part of Cyprus when it joins the EU on 1 May, where the language spoken is Greek.

Translation facilities

The eventuality of having Turkish as an official EU language "is being studied", the European Parliament spokesperson David Harley told this news site.

In the European Parliament chamber, there are spare interpreter booths where Turkish interpretation could be provided although full language cover of Turkish is unlikely to be provided from day one.

European Parliament President Pat Cox indicated last Tuesday, during his visit in Ankara, his institution's readiness to provide interpretation into Turkish.

"If the foundations are established for a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus this should mean that from 3 May at the European parliament's first plenary session after enlargement, the Turkish language will enter the European parliament", European Parliament President Pat Cox said in Ankara last Tuesday.

Although the European Commission already has some translators and interpreters that understand Turkish, official recruitment of Turkish interpreters and translators will not start before there is a formal agreement on this question, a Commission spokesperson said.

If Turkey becomes a language of the EU - it will bring the total to 21 after enlargement.

No deal yet

However, it all depends on whether a settlement to the 30 year old division of Cyprus will be reached.

UN-led peace talks on the island have led to no progress so far, despite the looming 1 May deadline.

Statements made by the Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash are not encouraging.

Rauf Denktash has said that there will be no agreement to reunify Cyprus before joining the EU on 1 May.


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