OPINION

Turkey ‘wants its own way’

Arrogance and naivete seem to have affected the drafters of the proposed plan for Cyprus when they submitted a plan to solve a 28-year-old problem for approval, not for negotiation, within a month, so as to ensure the accession of a «united island» to the European Union on December 12. The authors of the proposal calculated – correctly as it turns out – that the ruling political class in Nicosia and Athens would raise few objections, since the concession of sovereign rights to the EU is the only practical policy. They naively imagined that Turkey would be attracted by the same vision and would suddenly stop acting like a traditional power. The result of this approach and these naive expectations is a reduction in the likelihood, not only of a solution, but possibly also of Cyprus’s unconditional accession being accepted at Copenhagen. For years, the EU tried to balance overtures to Cyprus with equivalent gestures to Turkey. From this point of view, the Copenhagen summit represents a significant departure, because Cyprus is preparing for the leap toward EU accession, while Turkey is unable to secure a date for negotiations that will go on for 20 years, because it fails to meet the criteria. As no Turkish politician could accept such a development, and since the supporters of Turkey’s candidacy cannot persuade the partners to satisfy Ankara, the summit will be crucial for Greek interests, which upsets our local reformers. In Turkey, however, the ruling class – including ruling party leader Recep Erdogan – continues to think in traditional terms of national interests, and Ankara sees Cyprus as a country with limited sovereignty. Ankara’s objective of ensuring Turkish influence in Cyprus has been attained, since the [UN Secretary-General Kofi] Annan proposal perpetuates the regime of guarantor powers in a state which will supposedly be a full member of the European Union. Turkey is trying to impose the same suffocating control over Cyprus’s EU accession, and has warned of «consequences» if this is not achieved. Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis belatedly realized, during his meeting with Turkish President Ahmet Sezer in Prague, that Turkey «wants everything its own way.» But that was to be expected. The real question is what limits there are to concessions by the Greek side and the European Union in the attempt to build Europe.