Complex dilemmas

The UN plan on the reunification of Cyprus proved to be nothing like the simple matter the Greek administration had expected. Developments show that the Turkish side remains a tough negotiator and that it has the strength to resist intense pressure, keeping its fundamental policies unchanged. The political elites in Athens and Nicosia have, each for their own reasons, accepted the plan as a basis for negotiations, despite the fact that a settlement would, in all probability, involve a great deal of compromise. The Greek government even suggested that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s plan entails a choice between a solution or final partition. Ankara, on the other hand, treated the plan in a different manner. For the Turkish side it all boiled down to one question: If the EU does not set a date for the start of membership talks at Copenhagen, why should Turkey cooperate over a solution to the Cyprus issue? Things have become complicated. And Athens now seems to be pushing for Cyprus’s EU accession – even without a prior settlement – even though that would increase the risk of permanent partition. Turkey’s stance at this stage takes the administration back to what the premier said at the Cabinet session on January 17: «The unhindered completion of EU enlargement and the unhindered accession of Cyprus in the EU are among our main priorities. Cyprus’s accession remains for us a top priority… And we possess the political will and institutional ability to promote Cyprus’s EU membership.» Prime Minister Costas Simitis posed no dilemmas back then. The «solution or partition» dilemma was to emerge 11 months later. It will be interesting to see how Simitis will resolve this dilemma should the Copenhagen summit result in the decision to admit Cyprus without a prior solution to its division.

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