3rd Dec 2023

No early recognition of Cyprus, says Turkey

  • Cyprus has been divided since 1974 (Photo: European Commission)

Turkey has ruled out recognition of the divided island of Cyprus until there is a peace settlement and said that agreeing to extend a customs agreement to all 25 member states of the EU would not mean official recognition of Cyprus.

Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan underlined this position after a meeting with his British counterpart Tony Blair in London on Wednesday (27 July).

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"There will be no change on the recognition question until there is a settlement", said Mr Erdogan in a televised press conference.

The Turkish leader also indicated that his country would sign the protocol soon - there is speculation it could be as soon as Thursday or Friday of this week - but did not give an exact date.

But Mr Erdogan is backed by the EU in his position. Mr Blair, as current head of the EU, said "It is simply important for us to restate the legal fact, which is the signing of the protocol does not involve the recognition of Cyprus".

With this statement, he is building on a compromise agreement reached during a summit in December where Mr Erdogan promised to sign the protocol before the bloc opened membership negotiations on 3 October.

The head of the EU at the time, Dutch prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende, said that while it would not mean recognition of Cyprus "it is a step that can lead to progress".

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 after Turkey invaded the island in reaction to a Greek-inspired coup in Nicosia - Turkey recognises only the Turkish northern part of the island.

The UN had been striving to broker a deal for the island. Its plans fell through after a referendum in April last year when the majority of Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of the UN federation plan for the island but the majority of Greek Cypriots voted against it.

British support

Although Turkey is not being asked to recognise Cyprus before 3 October, several member states will push for it to do so before it actually becomes a member of the EU, something that will not happen before 2014.

Some member states in the EU are supporting the line that Turkey should never become a member of the bloc but should simply have a special partnership with it.

As a strong supporter of Ankara’s membership bid, Mr Blair made reference to this during the press conference.

"I know there are many uncertainties in Europe at the present time, but the prospect of Turkish membership, though obviously some time in the future, I think will be important for Europe and for its security", said the British leader.

He also congratulated Turkey for the "great changes" it has made to bring itself into line with EU laws and democracy.

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