OPINION

Obstinacy behind a veil of diplomacy

The European Union is debating the possibility of launching «direct trade» with the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus. And it is taking the matter very seriously – not because it regards this as an important matter of principle but in order to cajole Turkey into fulfilling its obligations as an EU candidate state. It is quite clear what is happening here and what is at stake: Ankara is insisting on the aforementioned exchange, and not because it is concerned about improving the living standards of the Turkish Cypriots. If it had been interested in that, then it would have withdrawn its occupying forces and the northern half of the island would have become part of the EU, along with Republic of Cyprus in the south, with all the economic benefits such a move would have entailed for the Turkish Cypriots. Turkey’s stance on this issue speaks volumes about its outlook in general; having created an illegal «satellite» state in the northern half of Cyprus, which it has forcibly maintained for decades, Ankara now wants to don the facade of a serious diplomat and legitimize the situation. The simple truth is that the Turkish Cypriots are not «isolated.» It is the illegal state created by the invading country which has been found in violation of international law in a series of decisions made by the United Nations Security Council. In view of all this, if the EU approves a proposal for direct trade with the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus, it will be acting illegally. After all, who will be doing business with the EU if this move is implemented? It will not be a Turkish-Cypriot farmer or tradesman but the designated authorities of this illegal state. Some commentators in Brussels and elsewhere maintain that the northern part of Cyprus is effectively part of EU territory, following the accession of the southern part of the island in 2004, and so the acquis communautaire should be compromised. But then these people need to explain how the EU can accept the presence of occupying troops on its territory, troops belonging to a country which hopes to join its ranks in the foreseeable future.