OPINION

Self-respect

When the EU governments mulled giving Turkey the green light for talks in December 2004, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos raised the issue of Cyprus’s recognition. His EU peers then pressed him to make do with a customs union. In the summer of 2005, Ankara refused to apply the related protocol on Cyprus and in a counter-statement the EU warned Turkey that meeting its obligations is a must for the continuation of talks. A year has passed since then. Ankara has dug in its heels in anticipation of some outside help. It’s not that the US and Britain hold special feelings for Turkey. It’s just that they see Turkey as a brake to Europe’s integration and political emancipation. Their efforts are not irrelevant to the fact that the Finnish presidency (in close collaboration with expansion chief Olli Rehn) have linked the implementation of the protocol deal to the easing of economic isolation of Turkish Cypriots. In other words, they are offering Ankara a reward for meeting one of its conventional obligations. This is more than an attempt to stave off a crisis in EU-Turkish relations. It is also a way to put the blame of a new impasse on Nicosia. But what goes on between the EU and Turkey is much more than a competition between Ankara and Nicosia. Horse trading the obvious is an insult to Europe’s image and credibility. The ball is in Turkey’s court. It must fulfill its obligations by the end of the year or Brussels must halt negotiations until Turkey implements the protocol. That would be a clear and constructive stance. It would respect rules without closing the door on Ankara. The EU must not compromise its own principles, or instead of Turkey becoming more European the reverse will happen.