Accession first, then settlement

In a few hours, the fog will have lifted in Copenhagen. Barring an unexpected turn, Turkish intransigence will result in Cyprus’s EU accession without a prior solution to the political problem. This would be ideal for the Greek side unless the EU introduced footnotes to the island’s membership. A call for a continuation of negotiations will cause no problem. What will cause trouble is if the Greek side is forced to sign a binding framework for a solution. This would not help the talks and, even worse, could be invoked to obstruct Cyprus’s entry. Athens’s flirting with such ideas is a surprise. Fears that a failure to reach a settlement in Copenhagen will undermine the current momentum and consolidate partition are also groundless. A settlement of the Cyprus problem is an official condition for Turkey to approach the EU. Ankara’s European aspirations presuppose a solution. This is why Turkey will most likely confine itself to refusing to recognize Cyprus’s accession – a move mainly intended for domestic consumption. The Greek side wants a nationally tolerable and functional solution. The UN’s modified plan is not only unfavorable to the Greek Cypriots, it’s also of questionable viability. Even if we accepted the proposed confederal solution and the political leveling of 82 percent of the population with the other 18 percent, it would be foolish to embrace points that are bound to undermine the solution itself and Cyprus’s future position within the Union. Amending these would be for the good of both communities. The Greek side showed its good intentions by immediately endorsing the plan as a basis for negotiations. It was Turkey that torpedoed the proposed time frame. Even if the Turkish side accepted the plan today, a Cypriot rejection of the ultimatum would still be legitimate. It seems, however, that things will never get that far.

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