Sunday, 12 September 2010

Cyprus sends out warning over direct trade with pseudo-state

Turkey’s EU accession is being held up by its refusal to implement the Ankara protocol, which would involve it opening its ports and airports to Cypriot traffic. Turkey has said it will only implement the protocol if the EU adopts direct trade with the pseudo-state in occupied Cyprus.

Now, in order to overcome this stalemate – prevent the EU ‘losing’ Turkey – Turkey’s backers in the European Commission and European Parliament have decided they will try to force through direct trade with the pseudo-state so that Turkey can meet its obligations regarding the customs union with Cyprus. This would, in effect, ride roughshod over the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus and give significant legitimacy to the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ – giving it the status of a Taiwan. The Cyprus problem would effectively be solved, entirely in Turkey’s favour; which is why in today’s Cyprus version of Kathimerini, Markos Kyprianou, Cyprus’s foreign minister, is explicit about what the government of Cyprus will do if the EU goes ahead with this attempt to formalise the partition of Cyprus: it will put an end to Turkey's EU membership talks. (Read the whole article in Greek here).

‘Our position is that this regulation leads to the complete separation of Greek and Turkish Cypriots, particularly regarding economic and trade issues… In fact, those who support the regulation will undermine Turkey's EU prospects. Because, if it passes, the Republic of Cyprus will no longer be able to consent to the opening of chapters [of the EU acquis communautaire] for Turkey, since a catastrophic decision will have been taken against us. And this is a message we are giving to our partners…

‘If some people believe that by advancing the direct trade regulation, they will be helping Turkey, the truth is that they will achieve directly the opposite result. Adopting the direct trade regulation will lead to the complete freezing of chapters that refer to Turkey. And instead of helping Turkey, they will harm that country.


And at the same time, will the effort to solve the Cyprus problem be over?
‘We have said repeatedly that the adoption of the regulation will torpedo the talks [between Greek and Turkish Cypriots], make them irrelevant. I want to stress that, as I’ve made clear to our partners, that the issue is not trade between the Turkish Cypriots and the EU. That can take place in a legal fashion, and to this we can give our consent and find ways forward. That which is unacceptable for us is the attempt to ascribe to the pseudo-state a legal status and the violation of the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus. I also believe that the proposal of the European Commission for direct trade is illegal. And if, despite our hopes, the proposal moves forward, in the end we will refer the matter to the European Court [of Justice].’