January 25, 2010
Regarding ‘Ambassador: ‘Turkey punished over Cyprus’‘:
In his interview with EurActiv Germany, Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Acet claimed that the freezing of a number of chapters in his country’s EU negotiations because of the Cyprus problem “is not fair”; that “elements which have nothing to do with the negotiations [i.e. the Cyprus problem] have been attached to the negotiations”; that “no other country ever faced a similar situation”; and that “this is a form of punishment”.
Ambassador Acet’s claims could have been challenged immediately by his German interlocutors. As laconically as possible, here is how:
1. No other candidate country ever faced “a similar situation” only because no other candidate has been condemned for the invasion and ongoing occupation of a state that is now a full member of the EU.
2. To assert that elements “which have nothing to do with the negotiations” have been attached to them is just false. Concentrating only on the last few years, Turkey was asked in September 2005 to respect its signature of the Additional Protocol to its Customs Union with the EU so as (1) to open its ports and airports to Cypriot vessels and aircraft and (2) to normalise its relations with the Republic of Cyprus. Given that Ankara refused to comply, the December 2006 European Council “froze” the eight chapters and gave Turkey a three-year “grace-period” in order for its candidacy to be “re-evaluated” in December 2009. Needless to say, Ankara not only continues to refuse compliance with its legal obligations to Cyprus and the EU itself, but has also embarked on escalating its provocations regarding the inter-communal Cypriot negotiations.
3. To be sure, the EU’s stance constitutes “punishment” indeed. But it is entirely justified as shown; otherwise, the Union would have contradicted its essential principles, values and norms. Therefore, Ambassador Acet’s false assertions could easily deceive anyone untutored in the Cyprus problem and in EU-Turkey relations.
Finally, while all the above is rather unfortunate, a positive – albeit unintended – consequence did arise: that is, pondering on Mr. Acet’s Cyprus-related propositions can help explain why the “Cypriot inter-communal negotiations” have all but reached another cul-de-sac.
University of Cyprus