OPINION

EU values and Cyprus

The «solution or partition» dilemma that Prime Minister Costas Simitis is expected to pose to his Socialist deputies and members of his Central Committee regarding the UN peace plan is, to a large extent, a reflection of reality in the sense that a renewed impasse in the Cyprus issue would further consolidate the present state of affairs. On the other hand, accepting the UN proposal as a basis for negotiations entails hopes that justice on the long-divided island will be gradually restored. The above does not mean that the plan must be embraced in its current form, but that it should be accepted as the basis of persistent and painstaking negotiations intending to approximate it to the provisions of international law and the acquis communautaire. This is perhaps the most crucial point, especially considering the plan’s serious divergence from the shared values of the EU and the obstacles that it raises to Cyprus’s accession to a common European security and defense policy. Indeed, it should not be forgotten that it was Cyprus’s European course that catapulted the island’s political dispute onto center stage. Even though UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s plan contains blatant injustices for Greek Cypriots and deviations from the basic tenets of international law – not to mention the UN’s very own resolutions on Cyprus – it still paves the entire island’s way to EU membership. This does not only entail the prospect of a political union but also of free movement, settlement and exchange between people. The importance of these parameters underscores the direction in which the Greeks and Greek Cypriots must push during the talks. The plan must be modified so as to bring it come closer to the acquis communautaire and to guarantee that the resolution of any differences between the two communities will be in accordance with European values and regulations. It is important to curtail the rigid restrictions on free movement and to ensure that the three foreign judges charged with solving crucial deadlocks will be of European nationality. Should Cyprus’s European course be consolidated, the momentum will gradually lead to a new state of affairs in the interest of both communities. This is where Athens and Nicosia must focus their attention, while securing EU backing. Similar to its pledge that it won’t make discounts on the acquis communautaire for the sake of Ankara, the EU cannot compromise its principles to please Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.