Monday

23rd Oct 2017

Turkish Cypriots fear implications of Cyprus EU presidency

  • Cyprus will run the day-to-day business of the EU from July until the end of the year (Photo: khowaga1)

While Cyprus is feverishly preparing its EU presidency starting 1 July, Turkish Cypriots from the isolated northern part of the island fear that Nicosia's international role will entrench divisions between the two sides.

"There is both exhaustion and the need for change in the Cyprus talks," says Osman Ertug, a spokesperson for the Turkish Cypriot community. "There is hardly any subject that has not been discussed and rediscussed."

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He admits there is "no organic link" between Cyprus taking on the day-to-day running of the EU for the next six months and the Cyprus question, but suggests the developmwnt will cement the status quo.

"It will boost the self-confidence of the other side," says Ertug.

Ertug's appeal - made at the European Policy Centre think-tank on Tuesday (19 June) - comes eight years after Cyprus entered the EU as an island divided between Greek Cypriots in the south and Turkish Cypriots in the north.

The island has been split since 1974 after Turkey invaded following a Greek-backed coup.

Negotiations to reconcile both sides - include the latest round to create a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation - have outlasted the political lives of six United National secretary generals, six Greek Cypriot leaders and three Turkish Cypriot leaders.

Northern Cyprus, on a third of the territory and with about 20 percent of the 1 million population, is formally recognised only by Ankara.

It smarts under its relative economic and political isolation. EU law is suspended in the territory. There are no direct flights to the area. And a European Commission pledge to enact direct trade between the EU and the north is going nowhere.

Turkey - which has resettled more Turkish citizens to northern Cyprus than there were original Turkish-origin natives - also maintains at least 30,000 thousands troops in the northern part.

Ertug called on the EU to exert pressure on Cyprus to tackle the issue, claiming that Greek Cypriots have been dragging their feet in UN-negotiated talks.

"We are in the European Union but we are not. We are Europeans but we are not," he said.

EU officials, for their part, note that the commission has no leverage to exert pressure on Cyprus on the issue.

But enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele says that Turkish Cypriot fears about Cyprus' EU presidency are misplaced.

Cyprus' presidency will make other EU states "more aware of the situation on the island. They will better understand the challenges faced by a de facto divided member state," said the commissioner ahead of this week's visit to the island.

"This should inject a new sense of urgency to solve the Cyprus problem," he added.

Cyprus officials, keen for their six month presidency stint to show that the island is more than its protracted division, resent both Ertug's timing and his words.

"It's a pity they are returning to this rhetoric just ahead of the presidency. They are trying to poison the presidency," said Nikos Christodoulides, spokesperson of the Cyprus representation in Brussels.

Meanwhile, longtime watchers of the problem believe negotiations - stuck on myriad issues including property rights and security - will stay off the agenda until after the presidency and after the Greek Cypriot elections next year.

Amanda Paul from the European Policy Centre agrees that the "Greek Cypriots have been going at a slower pace" than the Turkish Cypriots want.

But a real move is needed from one of the players to give the talks impetus.

"Ideally, Turkey should abide by its obligations and open its airspace and ports to Greek Cypriots," Paul said.

"People are saying: 'Why can't you open a port?' Really, it's not a big deal. It's not going to change our economic situation or harm us. It's a matter of principle," Turkey's EU ambassador, Selim Yenel, told this website.

"If it's annoying, let's have an annoyance, so that people are aware there is a situation going on."

Turkish Cypriot vote result of disappointment with EU

The victory of nationalist hardliners in Sunday's parliamentary elections in northern Cyprus is due to disappointment at the EU's failure to end its isolation, Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat has said.

Cyprus to allow EU aid to Turkish Cypriots

The Greek Cypriot government has announced it will drop legal action against EU aid to Turkish Cypriots in the north of the divided island, in a boost to chances for settling the long-term dispute between the two communities and between Europe and Turkey.

Parliament group split over Turkish Cypriot approach

A body of MEPs created to strengthen relations with the Turkish-Cypriot community is "no longer the appropriate instrument for the European Parliament to effectively deal with the Cyprus issue", according to a German MEP.

Tough Cypriot stance reduces hopes of EU-Turkey deal

The Cypriot government has reiterated its threat to veto Turkey's EU accession talks while rejecting key demands from the Turkish Cypriots. Its stance is damaging efforts by the Finnish EU presidency to avert a major crisis between Ankara and Brussels.

Investigation

The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals

Klaus Mangold, a German businessman with good connections in Russia, and who provided a jet for Commission vice-president Guenther Oettinger, played a crucial role in Hungary's controversial Paks nuclear deal with Russia, Direkt36's investigation has found.

Catalan MPs weigh independence declaration

A crucial week is ahead in Catalonia as its leaders decide whether to declare independence - an illegal move according to the Spanish government – or yield to pressure from Madrid.

Italian regions demand autonomy from Rome

The Lombardy and Veneto regions in northern Italy are seeking greater self-determination from the central government following referendum results on Sunday.

News in Brief

  1. May: EU member states will not lose out with Brexit
  2. Slovakia pledges to be 'pro-European' oasis in region
  3. Report: Catalan leader to address Spanish senate
  4. Fiat-Chrysler 'obstructed justice' reports Le Monde
  5. EU presidency 'confident' on posted workers agreement
  6. Young conservatives boot out Erdogan's party
  7. Tsipras urged to let refugees go before winter sets in
  8. Thousands demand justice in Malta

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreI Say Europe, You Say...? Interview With EU Commission VP Jyrki Katainen
  2. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  4. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  5. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  6. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  7. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  10. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  11. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  12. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe