Things have come to a head

We’re only a few weeks ahead of the Copenhagen summit and things seem to have come to a head. The illness of Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and Turkey’s looming elections have put the brakes on negotiations over a solution to the Cyprus dispute, which is in the process of being hammered out by US and EU officials. The EU, in particular, has every reason to be in a hurry, for it does not wish to inherit the Cyprus problem. In their attempt to win Ankara’s consent, the Americans and the British have mapped out a settlement proposal which, sources say, is very close to Turkish demands for a two-state solution and a far cry from the UN Security Council resolutions. Ironically, the proposal will be «served» by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Time pressures and past negative experiences mean that the room to maneuver will be limited. The two sides won’t be able to make substantial amendments. The plan foresees a state resembling a confederation rather than a federation, and which yields disproportionate privileges to the Turkish Cypriots. However, Ankara’s stance appears negative, not only for tactical reasons. It fears that the new environment shaped by European integration could remove its control over the breakaway state. Turkey, however, cannot prevent Cyprus’s accession. Annexing the occupied territory would tarnish its ties with the EU. Greece is also faced with a painful dilemma. Athens does not wish to be blamed for a failure of the Cyprus talks, which would give some EU states the opportunity to block the island’s accession. But it cannot sign a deal that will not only be detrimental to Greek interests but which would also give birth to a volatile, Bosnia-type statelet that would transfer its internal tensions to the EU. This is something the EU should ponder. Unlike the US, the quality of the solution will directly touch upon European interests.

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