OPINION

Pre-Copenhagen machinations

The USA and Greece’s European partners will do everything to achieve agreement on Cyprus before the European Union’s Copenhagen summit next week. As Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash’s obstructionism leaves no room for detailed negotiations, they can only achieve their goal by a direct or indirect ultimatum, which it seems UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is working on. The Turkish side has made its stance dependent on the Cyprus issue and on satisfaction in Copenhagen of its demand for a starting date for accession negotiations. But sources say the EU will postpone making that decision until the 2004 summit, in which case Annan’s effort may well fail. The partners would then have no pretext for expressing reservations about Cyprus’s EU accession. Some may attempt to link the decision on accession to the process of resolving the Cyprus issue. It is vitally important that Athens refuses such a formula. If a clear decision on accession is reached, the Greek-Cypriot side will be in a privileged position. It will continue to seek a solution but will not give in to blackmail. The effort of Simitis and Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou to include a formula in the Copenhagen decision committing both sides to solve the Cyprus issue makes no political sense, because such a formula might be used as a tool to make accession provisional. They argue that this formula would prevent Ankara from reacting and making partition definitive. This argument is groundless, because solving the Cyprus issue is an official prerequisite for upgrading Greek-Turkish relations. In short, as long as Turkey requests a firm date for the start of accession negotiations, it will have an incentive to work on a solution – one which must comply with the EU’s acquis communautaire.