OPINION

A common stance on Turkey needed

The need for Athens and Nicosia to determine a «common stance» on Turkey’s scheduled accession talks with the European Union was a direct consequence of the French government’s decision to condemn Turkey’s declaration that it would not recognize Cyprus. The divided status of Cyprus is well-known to all. Despite this, the island’s Greek-Cypriot south became an EU member last May while the Turkish-occupied north was left out. Nevertheless, Turkey’s declaration to the EU – which was attached to a protocol extending Ankara’s EU customs union to all 25 member states of the bloc – is an attempt to create the impression of two separate states on the island. Clearly though, there is a significant disparity between Turkey’s stance on this matter and the declaration that was accepted by the European Commission. The joint aim of Athens and Nicosia can be nothing short of Turkey’s unreserved retraction of its declaration. If Turkey refuses to do this, then even the forging of a joint stance by all 25 member states – recognizing the Cypriot government – would be of little import as, essentially, this is already happening. The major risk Greece faces if Turkey sticks to its guns is that this consolidates Britain’s stance, according to which EU funding should be sent directly to northern Cyprus and not via internationally recognized authorities in the south. France’s initiative constitutes a good opportunity to nip this in the bud…