OPINION

Dazzling failure

The manner in which European Union president Britain handled the bloc’s counter-declaration to Ankara’s refusal to recognize the Cypriot government in the southern part of the divided island left egg on the faces of British envoys. The outcome involved endless talks between European officials, behind-the-scenes contacts between London and Ankara, and much wasting of time and energy on an issue that the EU chair brought into focus in order to please Turkish officials. French criticism of Ankara initially made things difficult for Britain. But France soon backed down as both Athens and Nicosia showed little willingness to take the issue any further. But that was not enough to make Britain happy. Ankara’s statement of non-recognition was the outgrowth of Turkey’s longstanding policy on Cyprus, and British diplomats felt they had to defend Ankara’s provocative stand. Unavoidably, Britain violated the protocol until the whole thing degenerated into a farce. The British began drafting a series of texts with the aim of sparing the joint counter-declaration any points that might compromise Turkey’s Cyprus policy. London, of course, knew Athens and Nicosia would shy from using their veto powers. Greece does want to see Turkey hop aboard the EU train. But that does not mean it will take any obtrusive behavior, whether in the form of Ankara’s counter-declaration or Britain’s artless, pro-Turkish bias. In the end, British diplomats showed they have little interest in respecting Europe’s political principles. In the process, they marred the image of the British presidency. Worse, despite tough bargaining in the EU, Britain failed to satisfy its very demanding friend, Turkey. Now, there’s a dazzling failure.