Painful dilemma

By having set a relatively low threshold for Turkey, Athens and Nicosia have effectively shaped the contours of the EU’s policy on Turkey. Sure, it’s unlikely that Paris would have pushed things any further, but even had it wished to, it could not afford to be more royalist than the king. Naturally, EU leaders concentrated their efforts on shaping a counterstatement to Ankara. The British presidency tried to push for a more favorable statement but was forced to back down under pressure from more skeptical Europeans. The non-recognition of an EU member by a candidate state is not just a political paradox – more so given that Turkey will not negotiate with the Commission but with the 25 member states. That, of course, includes one that it refuses to recognize. The EU summit in December set the signing of the customs protocol as the sole condition for the launch of EU talks – and that signature should be enough for the Commission. That was then. EU governments needed nothing more than Ankara’s provocative declaration of non-recognition to push Turkey against the wall. In any case, however, they must demand fulfillment of the existing condition, as Ankara has defied EU pressure to open its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and planes. That should be enough to postpone EU talks. Nor is there any reason to accept the time frame proposed by the British presidency. Pressure is mounting on Turkey. Ankara will soon be faced with a painful dilemma – either to abort its EU ambitions or revise its Cyprus policy. Neither will be easy. The only solution for Turkey would be a Cyprus settlement proposal along the lines of the rejected Annan blueprint. Therefore, we might soon see a new bid by the UN secretary-general. The USA and UK, champions of Turkey’s EU accession, should have no problem pushing Annan into action.