Abstract detail

Title The Cyprus Question, the EU and the Stakes Involved

The Cyprus question is an international problem which does not only concern the Cypriots. It has several dimensions: from the bicommunal to the relations between Greece and Turkey, from the regional and security balances (or imbalances) in the eastern Mediterranean to the broader European foreign and security policy aspects as well as the wider international (for example, significance in terms of the precedent it may set). Whether and how it will be resolved will obviously and inevitably have repercussions beyond the territorial boundaries of this island–state. In relation to its domestic aspects the objective is to formulate a political structure to manage the relations of the majority and the minority community as well as all the people of the country. This objective is inevitably influenced by other considerations some of which create further complications. In this regard it should be stressed that the presence of Turkey remains overwhelming. The Cyprus question constitutes a major challenge for the EU for various reasons including the following: the EU is directly entangled as Turkey, a candidate country for membership, continues to occupy a substantial part of the territory of a member country, the Republic of Cyprus, and has not yet complied with the minimum obligations that Ankara had undertaken before beginning its accession negotiations in 2005. The EU cannot project itself as a leading international player if it does not address this and similar issues comprehensively and effectively. An arrangement which safeguards and promotes EU principles and interests would act as a model of peaceful and constructive coexistence between Greek-Cypriot Christians and Turkish-Cypriot Moslems in Cyprus and beyond. In an age when the objective of promoting intercultural cooperation is at the top of the European and international agenda such an outcome in Cyprus could prove an invaluable step in the right direction. It is clear that if Turkey is serious about its own democratization and its European orientation it must let Cyprus go. Turkey cannot be free and democratic and at the same time have expansionist designs on Cyprus (and other countries). It is also essential that Turkey has consistent policies in relation to the Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus, its own Kurdish minority as well as the Kurds of Iraq. For a country that has recently been elected a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and aspires to play a leading regional role this is what the international community and in particular the EU can expect.

Primary author
Andreas Theophanous