Turkish intransigence

Athens has emphasized once again that Ankara’s stance on the Cyprus issue poses a roadblock to Turkey’s European aspirations. The first step of the Turkish government toward its economic annexation of the occupied part of the Mediterranean island is, according to Greece, simultaneously a step away from Brussels. This position may make sense, but it still fails to answer one simple question: If Turkey continues its intransigent policy on Cyprus, what will the implications be for the Republic of Cyprus? The problem will not disappear just because Turkey is drifting away from the European Union. Furthermore, however «European» Cyprus may feel after the decision to allow it into the EU, Greece is still not rid of the need to tackle Ankara’s aggressive policy on the divided island or the possibility of a military incident in the Aegean. For sure, Turkey cannot afford to snub Brussels on the Cyprus issue. But this does not mean that Athens can afford to sit back and leave everything up to the EU. Furthermore, we should keep in mind that in recent years Ankara has always been the one to create problems that triggered wider developments and led to various international initiatives. It could turn out that the decision by the Turkish government to promote a customs union with the breakaway state was a major error. But until Turkey realizes its mistake and changes its attitude, its establishment will stick to the position that there are two equal states on Cyprus. And as long as Ankara insists on this policy, Athens must be prepared to deal with military incidents in Cyprus or the Aegean, as Ankara has always treated these two issues as elements of a single policy.