27th Feb 2024

Turkey criticises EU's pared-down Northern Cyprus aid deal

  • Cyprus has welcomed the deal on aid to the Turkish Cypriot community (Photo: European Commission)

EU foreign ministers are set to greenlight an aid package of €139 million to Northern Cyprus, which is less than Brussels originally proposed and does not include help to trade between the bloc and Turkish Cypriots.

But Ankara warns that the deal could create new problems.

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EU diplomats agreed on the details of the financial injection on Friday (24 February), after months of delay due to opposition to the original Brussels' proposal by some member states, mainly Cyprus.

The mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, and only the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot republic in the south entered the EU in 2004.

The European Commission in 2004 suggested the Turkish Cypriot community in the break-away northern part should receive aid worth €259 million and better provisions for sending its exports to the EU.

The proposal came after the Northern Cypriot population endorsed in a referendum the UN plan to re-unite the island, which subsequently failed due to its rejection by the Greek Cypriots.

In a decision set to be taken by foreign ministers on Monday (27 February), there is no mention of the trade provisions between the EU and Northern Cyprus however, while the financial aid of €139 milion is to be spent mainly on infrastructure.

The Greek Cypriot government has welcomed the deal.

"We consider that the adoption of the financial aid regulation is a concrete step forward, and signifies our commitment to contribute in a practical and result-oriented manner to the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community with a view to the economic integration and reunification of the island," Nikosia said in a statement.

But Turkey - the only country that recognises Northern Cyprus - argues the EU has broken its promise in failing to secure better trade provisions for the Turkish Cypriot community.

"The genuine step Turkey expects is direct trade together with financial aid. This unilateral decision by the EU will bring new problems and difficulties," Turkey's foreign minister Abdullah Gul said according to the Financial Times.

The Cyprus issue has proved to be a key problem for Ankara in its own EU membership talks, as all the agreements need to be approved by the government in Nikosia - which is not recognised by Turkey.

The Cyprus issue has also sent ripples further afield, with EU neighborhood policy talks in South Caucasus delayed by several months last year when Greek Cyprus complained that Azerbaijan was allowing flights to and from Northern Cyprus.


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