OPINION

The Turkish plan

Turkey’s proposals for a Cyprus solution, as outlined in the Turkish daily Cumhurriyet, reveal a desperate attempt to reconcile its traditional strategy of occupation on the island with its European aspirations. These proposals are to be submitted with detailed maps and the claim that they are compatible with the Annan plan for the island’s reunification. From the sketchy picture we have, it seems that the differences between Turkey’s plan and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s are not only quantitative, but also qualitative, more so as we only have limited information about constitutional matters. The truth is that Turkey cannot easily ignore warnings from Europe. Twenty years after declaring an illegitimate Turkish-Cypriot state, it is now faced with a painful strategic dilemma. The European Commission’s report in the fall merely rubber-stamped that which Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen had already made clear. However much Turkey wants to deny it, its aspirations to join the EU conflict with its traditional strategies. Solving the Cyprus problem is not an official criterion for EU accession, but it is a barrier affecting EU-Turkish ties. Europeans had originally objected to Cyprus’s accession because they did not want to inherit the island’s political problem. But when Cyprus becomes a member, it is in their interest to solve its problem to avoid political reverberations.