Friday, 1 March 2013
Jack Straw, the Annan plan and the dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus
Apparently, Turkey’s Ministry for EU Affairs and Turkish state broadcaster TRT are preparing a propaganda video for release this summer that seeks to portray the EU’s acceptance of Cyprus as a member in 2004 as a mistake.
According to this report (in Greek), to back up Turkey’s narrative, the video will contain contributions from some leading European politicians from the 2004 EU accession era, including former chancellor of Germany, Gerhard Schröder; former UK prime minister, Tony Blair; Blair’s foreign secretary, Jack Straw; and Sweden’s foreign minister, Carl Bildt (in other words, the usual Turkey apologists and lobbyists). The above clip has excerpts from interviews with Straw and Schröder.
What does Turkey want to achieve in this campaign to prove that the EU’s decision, almost 10 years ago, to accept the Republic of Cyprus as a member was an error?
Obviously, it wants to undermine the Republic of Cyprus, dispute its membership of the EU and encourage other EU member states to override Cyprus’ objections when it comes to Turkey-EU and Turkish Cypriot-EU relations.
Also, by dwelling on the Greek Cypriot rejection of the Annan plan (which Turkey suggests Greek Cypriots were obliged to approve as part of a package that would see Cyprus enter the EU) Turkey wants to portray itself as blameless in the continuing partition of the island and depict the Greek Cypriots as the real obstacle to reunification. Such a scenario allows Turkey to carry on with its genuine Cyprus policy, which aims at the upgrading of the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ and the incorporation of that entity into an Annan-style confederal Cyprus. What Turkey wants is to have full control in northern Cyprus and, at the same time, through partnership at the federal level between a Turkish Cypriot constituent state (essentially, the ‘TRNC’) with the Greek Cypriot constituent state, a large say in matters pertaining to island as a whole. The delegitimisation and dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus is, therefore, fundamental to Turkey’s ambition of bringing the whole of Cyprus under its sway; an ambition it would have gone a long way to achieving with the Annan plan.
This view of the Annan plan as providing for the dismantling of the Republic of Cyprus in order to satisfy Turkey’s aspirations is supported by the comments Jack Straw makes in the video, who admits that after the Greek Cypriots rejected the Annan plan, the UK government looked at ways that would have put a stop to the Republic of Cyprus joining the EU.
Now, although Cyprus passed all the technical and legal requirements for joining the EU with flying colours, being the first of the 10 members that joined in 2004 to complete compliance with the acquis communautaire; that to have tried to stop Cyprus joining in 2004 would have been legally and politically impossible – for example, EU states had agreed in 1995 that a resolution to the Cyprus problem was not a condition for the Republic of Cyprus joining the EU, and any last minute scuppering of Cyprus’ accession would have scuppered the accession of the other nine candidates as well; and we can, to a large extent, attribute Straw’s comments to his desire to say what his Turkish paymasters want to hear (I’ve written previously about how Jack Straw has, effectively, become a paid lobbyist for the Turkish government); it is still interesting that Straw admits how anxious the UK government and other allies of Turkey were to keep the Republic of Cyprus out of the EU in 2004. What such an anxiety reveals, unambiguously, is the inspiration and intentions behind the Annan plan, which had nothing to do with reunifying Cyprus and concerned instead the negation of the Republic of Cyprus and the denial to Greek Cypriots of the authority and legitimacy, emanating from their state, to impede Turkey joining the EU.