OPINION

Provocation

The fact that the issue of Turkey’s recognition of the Republic of Cyprus has become the subject of negotiations is alone an institutional paradox: a paradox that has become possible due to the European Union’s lack of self-respect. In fact, the matter should not even be up for discussion. The refusal by an EU candidate state to recognize an existing member of the bloc constitutes a blatant deviation from the Community’s principles. The predicament is not only an insult to Cyprus. It is foremost an insult to Europe itself, as it violates the Union’s founding treaty. By using a veto to block Cyprus’s membership in international organizations, Ankara is also in breach of the Maastricht Treaty. Ankara is putting forward the argument that recognizing the Nicosia government is not included in the Copenhagen criteria. It is true that the condition is not stated clearly for the simple reason that no one could have expected such a snag. Even enemy states maintain diplomatic ties – let alone a member state with a candidate member. The truth is that Ankara is in breach of the spirit of the Copenhagen criteria. And its intransigence is indicative of its mentality. Ankara wants Europe a la carte, cherishing the rights without taking on the responsibilities. Its demeanor shows that Europe’s political culture is a complete stranger to Turkey. Worse, while refusing to recognize the Republic of Cyprus and obstructing its membership in international organizations, the Turks are at the same time asking for an EU date for the beginning of membership negotiations. Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos is pushing to have Nicosia’s recognition included as a condition to the start of Turkey’s EU talks in the conclusions of the European Council. He has left open the possibility of a Cypriot veto in order to achieve this goal – and not in order to win Turkish recognition by December 17. For the time being, judging from the draft of the final statement for next week’s EU summit, all Nicosia is getting is a customs union agreement. Some have said that this would mean de facto recognition of Cyprus by Turkey. But this is not the case. A customs union will not force Ankara to cut its diplomatic ties with the breakaway state in northern Cyprus, nor to establish relations with the legitimate government in Nicosia. Only full recognition of Cyprus would oblige Ankara to make such moves to overthrow its longstanding strategy.