OPINION

Turkish miscalculations

The Republic of Cyprus did not come apart as it would have done had the UN peace plan come into force. It is now a full EU member, while at the same time Ankara failed to persuade the international community to recognize the breakaway state. Furthermore, the Turkish government will soon to have to sign an Additional Protocol with the EU, thereby recognizing the Cyprus Republic after 30 years. On top of this, Ankara is anxiously pushing for an unconditional EU talks date. For the first time in years, Turkish diplomacy has had to count the cost of its Cyprus policy. To be sure, a political solution has yet to be reached on the island’s division and Nicosia will have to clear many political hurdles before it can fully adapt to the EU. But the late Constantine Karamanlis’s prediction in August 1974 that Turkey «will soon be held hostage» by its own actions seems vindicated. Turkish diplomats were, first of all, thrown into disarray over Cyprus’s membership bid. They failed to take advantage of Glafcos Clerides’s proposal calling for a Turkish-Cypriot say in accession negotiations and then seriously miscalculated in thinking Brussels would not invite Cyprus to join the bloc (probably misled by reassurances by their European and American friends). Ankara subsequently followed a more aggressive policy, warning that Cyprus’s accession to the EU would spark a «dynamic reaction» – but in vain. Finally, the rejection en masse of the UN reunification plan for Cyprus last April in the Greek-Cypriot referendum did not prompt any retaliatory measures against Nicosia. It is now clear that Ankara overestimated its international leverage and Washington and London’s willingness to act in its favor. Greek diplomats can draw many useful conclusions from developments so far in this case.