OPINION

Turkey’s bargaining

Turkey’s persistence in trying to bargain over the implementation of a European Human Rights Court ruling in the Loizidou case is a clear indication of the way the country handles its relations with Europe. This includes the Cyprus issue, which although not part of the Copenhagen criteria is politically a «serious obstacle» to Turkey’s ambitions to join Europe. The European Union’s annual report confirmed what was already evident from statements by EU officials: EU members did not want to inherit the Cyprus issue, hence their reservations over the island’s membership. However, now that accession is a fact, it is in their own interest to resolve the problem. The message was sent but Turkey refuses to listen, which shows how hard it is for it comprehend European affairs and how entrenched it is in its own stereotypes. Turkey has not quite understood that its European orientation conflicts with its traditional strategy on Cyprus. That is why it is even trying to use the wave of sympathy that followed the terrorist attacks in Istanbul. But European Commissioner Guenther Verheugen pointed out Turkey cannot use the EU’s solidarity as a means of avoiding its obligations. As for the Cyprus issue, the ball has been in Ankara’s court for some time. As an indication to Europe of its good will, Nicosia has promised not to veto Turkey’s accession. Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos has officially reiterated his willingness to begin negotiations on the basis of the Annan proposal and his desire for the issue to be resolved before May 1. Once in the EU, the Greek Cypriots will have a greater advantage as a solution will have to be of European specifications. That would mean a change in at least some of the Annan provisions. And this is more significant than any practical and legal problems that will arise if, as is expected, no solution is found by May.