19th Sep 2020

Greece: without Cyprus no EU enlargement

Greece is prepared to block European Union enlargement if any member state attempts to exclude a divided Cyprus by December's Copenhagen summit. Aristide Agathocles, Greek ambassador to the EU, said it was "unthinkable for any Greek [political] party to vote in favour of accession that does not include Cyprus". If Cyprus was "not among the first lot, there will be no enlargement", the Financial Times reported. The talks between the two sides, which have been going on since January, have not led to any results. Moreover, the tension seems to be rising as Turkey sent an additional 5,500 troops to the Turkish-occupied part of the island.

The EU would prefer to admit a united Cyprus

Ten countries comprising the Baltic and east European countries, as well as Cyprus and Malta, are expected to join the EU by the end of the year. The EU would prefer to admit a united Cyprus. "Some slippage is possible, but not much," said a diplomat close to the talks. "Athens, Ankara, the EU and both communities in Cyprus know that unless something unforeseen happens, Cyprus, divided or not, will be ready to join the EU by Copenhagen," he added.

Cyprus urged to find solution by October

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During a debate at the European parliament on enlargement, Cyprus was urged to find a solution by October, since a deadline in June seems now unrealistic. The Commission has repeatedly said that a solution to the divided island is not a pre-condition for enlargement, however the EU is aware that if only the Greek part of Cyrprus is admitted into the EU, relations with Turkey might be jeopardised. Moreover, if Cyprus does not join the EU in the next enlargement, Greece is threatening to block the whole accession process.

Spanish Secretary of State, Ramon de Miguel, called on Cyprus to reach a solution before the 24 October. The issue of Cyprus and Turkey, are expected to be amongst the main items on the agenda of the Copenhagen Summit in December.

Cyprus accuses Turkey of hindering its accession into the EU

Tensions between the two sides, however, rose as Turkey decided to send an additional 5,500 troops to the Turkish-occupied north of the divided island, bolstering its military presence there to more than 40,000. Cypriot Defence Minister, Socrates Hasikos, on Tuesday accused Ankara of waging a war of nerves. "This is a systematic effort on behalf of Turkey to create tension; it is no longer confined to words but has progressed to action," Hasikos said, according to the Greek newspaper Ekathimerini.

He said Turkey's act of military brinkmanship was a deliberate move to escalate tension ahead of Cyprus’s impending European Union accession. "Turkey wants to appear convincing in its efforts, which are none other than to prevent Cyprus from joining the EU," Hasikos said. "It is a war of nerves against the Greek Cypriots and the EU."

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