Turkey remains tough against Greek Cypriots' EU presidency
EU candidate Turkey is sticking to its determination not to recognise the six-month EU Presidency of Greek Cypriots, which starts July 1st.
By Menekse Tokyay for SES Türkiye in Istanbul -- 11/06/12
Ankara said it will not freeze its relations totally with the EU when Cyprus takes over the six-month rotating presidency of the EU next month, but officials are sticking by their determination not to attend any event presided by Greek Cypriots.
Cypriot President Demetris Christofias (left) and Malta Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi speak to reporters June 8th. Christofias visited Malta in preparation for Cyprus assuming the EU presidency. [Reuters]
"The relations and contacts with the EU will continue, but none of the ministries or institutions of the Turkish Republic will be in contact with the Union presidency in any of the activities related to the Greek Cypriot presidency," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters on June 7th.
Didem Akyel, a Cyprus expert from the International Crisis Group, said the fact that Turkey will not go to events organised by the EU presidency for six months does not really affect the status quo of the drawn-out process. The EU will likely be focused on financial crises in Greece and Spain and on the creation of a new financial framework for the EU for the next several months, she said.
"It is unrealistic to expect any real movement in Turkey's EU process during Republic of Cyprus' presidency, particularly in terms of opening new chapters," she said.
Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and was officially recognised as an official candidate in 1999. Negotiations have been proceeding since 2005.
But Turkey's objection to the Greek Cypriots' leadership of the EU dates back to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus declared independence nearly 20 years ago, but has not been recognised by the UN.
Selcuk Unal, spokesperson from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, told SES Türkiye that pending a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus question, Turkey's position on the unilateral accession of the Greek Cypriot side to the EU will remain unchanged.
"As a founding country of the 1960 partnership state, Turkey cannot disregard its treaty obligations and responsibilities towards the Turkish Cypriot people, who are the co-owners of the Island," Unal said.
Unal also added that according to previous legal commitments the Greek Cypriots have never been Turkey's counterparts, but rather of Turkish Cypriots.
Emiliano Alessandri, a transatlantic fellow from the US-based German Marshall Fund, noted that Turkey's decision to continue working with the EU in some matters is a positive development.
"Meetings between Davutoglu and [EU foreign policy chief] Catherine Ashton will continue to take place, reinforcing the dialogue that is already developing on critical issues such as Syria's future and the Iranian nuclear programme," Alessandri said.