Wednesday

20th Feb 2019

Prickly reaction to Turkish plan on Cyprus conflict

  • Turkey thinks Cyprus is being arrogant on TRNC. Cyprus thinks Turkey is trying to kick it when it is down (Photo: khowaga1)

Cyprus and Greece have rebuked Turkey for trying to "take advantage" of the bank crisis to get a favourable deal on the Cypriot-Turkish conflict.

The Greek foreign minister, Dimitris Avramopoulos, complained about the Turkish initiative in a letter published on his website on Thursday (28 March).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He said: "In my view, it is certainly wrong to take the ephemeral economic weakness of Cyprus … as a policy criterion."

His Cypriot counterpart, Ioannis Kasoulides, said in a statement the following day: "With its attitude, the Turkish government clearly shows that it tries to take advantage of these difficult times in order to gain political and economic benefits."

The rebukes come after Turkey's foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, set out his ideas in no fewer than eight letters.

He wrote to China, France, Germany, Greece, Russia, the UK, the US and to the UN secretary general.

He did not write to Cyprus because Turkey does not recognise Cyprus, just as Cyprus (and the rest of the world) does not recognise the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), created after Turkey invaded the island in 1974.

Turkey is not making Davutoglu's proposal public for now.

But there are clues to his ideas in a press release on his website on 23 March.

It says peace talks should begin "immediately." It notes that "Turkish Cypriots will never become a minority in a Greek Cypriot state." It also tells Cyprus it cannot count on income from gas fields in maritime zones claimed by the TRNC unless there is a political solution.

The Greek and Cypriot letters give some more clues.

Avramopoulos refers to Davutoglu's proposal for a "quadripartite conference" involving Cyprus, Greece, the TRNC and Turkey.

Kasoulides' letter indicates that Davutoglu wants special rights for what Kasoulides calls "Turkish settlers" - people who moved from Turkey to the TRNC over the past 40 years.

It also indicates that Davutoglu put forward two options - the creation of a shared country or the mutual recognition of two separate countries - citing "Turkish references to 'two peoples' … 'two states'."

The closest the island came to a settlement was in 2004, when TRNC accepted a UN plan for a Swiss-type federation called the United Cyprus Republic with a new flag and a new national anthem.

It was rejected by a referendum in Cyprus, however.

The new Turkish initiative comes after a string of diplomatic victories.

Turkish leader Recep Tayip Erdogan is shortly planning to visit Brussels to mark the restart of accession talks after a three year pause. He recently agreed a ceasefire with Kurdish rebels and he got an apology from Israel over its killing of Turkish sailors on a Gaza flotilla.

Turkey believes it has an ace on Cyprus.

The Cypriot crisis has not hurt people in TRNC because TRNC-based banks are not active in Cyprus and few Turkish Cypriots cross the green line to work there.

At the same time, the TRNC problem stands in the way of Cyprus' access to gas deposits under the Mediterranean Sea, which could contribute between €5 billion and €30 billion to its economy over the next 20 years (estimates vary wildly).

But despite its upper hand, Ankara appears to have misjudged the mood in Athens and Nicosia.

The Greek minister in his letter added that Turkey is behaving like an old fashioned colonial power.

"The Greek and Turkish Cypriots no longer need protectors. They can find solutions for themselves," he said.

The Cypriot minister noted that his starting point for talks is "getting rid of the Turkish occupation."

A Cypriot diplomat told EUobserver: "The time is not right for these Turkish ideas."

He added: "The first priority for us is to find solutions to our huge financial problems. It's very hard to make any decisions on this question [TRNC] when Cyprus is in such a difficult situation."

News in Brief

  1. British PM to batter against EU wall on Brexit
  2. Hungary and Slovakia break EU line on Jerusalem
  3. Germany and France to overhaul EU competition law
  4. Estonia kicks out Danske Bank over money laundering scandal
  5. May and Juncker meet over Brexit on Wednesday
  6. EU promises to open up advisory groups
  7. EU agrees to limit CO2 emissions by trucks
  8. Juncker under attack in Hungary government ad

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. 'No evidence' ECB bond-buying helped euro economy
  2. Juncker: Orban should leave Europe's centre-right
  3. College of Europe alumni ask rector to cut Saudi ties
  4. EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news
  5. Trump right for once: Europe should take back foreign fighters
  6. EU should clarify rules for plant burgers and lab meat
  7. Italian populists could be second biggest force in EU parliament
  8. Merkel defends Russia ties, ridicules Trump on cars

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us