OPINION

Logjam

The logjam on the Euroforce issue, on the one hand, and the incipient intention to raise obstacles to Cyprus’s EU accession on the other, are anything but a bolt from the blue. In reality, they were both unavoidable. Things have come to a head, exposing what had been, until recently, covered over by the government’s reassuring rhetoric. However, there’s an essential difference between the two issues. As regards the question of accession, Greek diplomats have worked consistently for 15 years. As a consequence, the Cypriot Republic today stands on the doorstep of the EU. Any EU member that dares torpedo the island’s entry will, in effect, torpedo the entire process of EU expansion. Athens has two catalytic arguments in its favor: Cyprus’s fulfillment of the acquis communautaire and EU commitment at Helsinki in late 1999. Turkey’s insistence on a two-state solution leaves no room for progress but, at least, it is clear which side is to blame for the impasse. Should Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash follow a more flexible policy, things would become harder for Greece as pressure would shift on Greek-Cypriots. Unfortunately, the Euroforce issue has come at a crucial juncture in the Cyprus dispute. The government is largely to blame for the former problem, as it remained inert during the lengthy negotiations between the US, Britain and Turkey. But diplomatic moves are effective only before an agreement has been reached. The participation of US officials shows that they were not unofficial talks. Athens should have requested a meeting at EU level before a political precedent was set. Some EU partners threaten to block Cyprus’s entry should Greece not accept the Ankara text. Greece’s denial paralyzes the whole plan. The EU can, of course, consult ad hoc with NATO when the Euroforce is using its assets. The impasse can hence be overcome without giving Turkey a say in EU operations.