OPINION

A European solution

Now that the signatures have been penned, it’s worth remembering all those who until recently insisted that it would be in our national interest to see Kofi Annan’s plan implemented before Cyprus’s accession. Of course, the Cypriots could not but accept it as a basis for negotiations; this is one thing, but the claim that the UN plan was the best possible solution or that accession without prior settlement would consolidate the island’s partition is quite another. As we have said many times in the past, the signing of the accession treaty will give the Greek Cypriots an advantage in future bargaining. Ever since the EU inherited the Cyprus issue, it will set its accommodation as a precondition for promoting EU-Turkish relations. Furthermore, unlike the UN blueprint, Wednesday’s agreement does not warrant the abolition of the Cyprus Republic. Nicosia still accepts the UN proposal as a basis for negotiations. But should talks resume, Nicosia will have the power to demand that it be amended, not so much in order to get a more favorable deal but rather to secure a more viable solution, in line with the EU’s acquis communautaire. Why should an EU member accept the post-colonial system of guarantees provided by the Zurich agreement, which gives Ankara the right to unilateral intervention? Wouldn’t it be better if NATO took over as a guarantor? In short, we need to introduce a new approach; we must seek a European solution. The process will, of course, remain within UN contours, but UN envoys like Alvaro de Soto or David Hannay won’t have to devise monstrous artifices to satisfy Rauf Denktash’s demands. Nicosia will have the right to request the participation of an EU official in the talks. Should Ankara’s intransigence postpone a solution beyond May 2004, the dispute will be set on a new, European basis.