EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

Turkey’s Cyprus Problem


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.


Costas Melakopides
University of Cyprus

Author :


  1. Those of us who have been preoccupied with the Cyprus conflict are familiar with Mr Melakopides’s arguments that unfortunately dwell only on the absolute suffering, victimhood, and rightfulness of the Greek Cypriots. Apparently, his passionate attempts to justify the Greek Cypriots’ “NO” to the much-hope invested Annan Plan and his “absolute” point of view have prevented him from sympathizing with the prolonged suffering and inhumane isolation of the Turkish part and from understanding the matter more in depth.

    In case he hasn’t time to keep up with the recent literature on the Cyprus problem, I would like to remind him that the Cyprus conflict is now seen as the quintessential example of an “intractable conflict” in which the beginning and end as well as the reason and outcome have all been intermingled and blurred. Needless to say, there is no room for absolutes in intractable conflicts.

    A slight revision of ‘absolute’ ideas could contribute much to the attempts of dialogue and reconciliation in Cyprus.

  2. The meaning of “is not fair”, is that the decision of the EU to not respect its own laws and engagements by accepting Cyprus inside EU (while having border issues, while not freeing the movements of goods an people from Northern Cyprus) should have backfired on EU and not on Turkey.

  3. It is admirable how all Turkish diplomats always try to turn the focus away from their aggressive past, the invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and the taking under military control the northern part of the island where 40000 Turkish troops are placed there even today.
    Instead they all focus on the 2004 referendum where we voted No to a plan that unworkable, unjust and that was crafted by Turkey UK and USA just to help Turkey join EU.

    But if your a small country of 800000 people justice is not something that you can get easily.

  4. I still don’t understand how Cyprus was allowed into the EU. Neither it nor Turkey should have been allowed in until this was settled. In fact, Greece’s membership should have been suspended as well. Maybe then there would be some progress.

  5. I think all the Greek politics is based on bias and altruism of Greek ideals at the expense of blaming others. In first place, I think EU should have not admitted a Member State who still has a dispute and unresolved problem within its territory which could complicate matters for EU and the settlement. I am thinking EU is using Cyprus a as shield against Turkey’s bid for membership. On the other hand, I think that Greek Cypriots should awake to the realities and should understand that the island is divided, Turkey has carried out a rescue operation of the ethnic genocide of the Turkish Cypriots by Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots has suffered as much as the Greeks. As long as they see the things one-sided and cannot empathise with the predicaments of Turkish Cypriots and both communities lead to build peace on trust and mutual understanding, the settlement will be shaky and wobbly. I do not think Turkey has more problems than most other less developed EU member states have like Greece, Portugal, Romania and Bulgaria. The latest demise and destitution of the Greece economically shows that Greece is as much at the same level as Turkey is even worse.

    Indeed, it is vital to remind both the writer and the others who is reading this article that Turkey’s strategic and geo-political significance is crucial to EU’s existence and the prospective Great Mid_East Plan of USA. Therefore, ignoring Turkey on account of a small island like Cyprus whose significance cannot be felt as much will be a “fool’s” assumption. The only reason why Turkey is not immediately being accepted to EU is has to do with the decision making systematic of EU and the uncertain future “final politique” of EU” itself. It has nothing to do with the anything else. For God’s sake, Greek Cypriots face the reality, face the true colours once and be real to yourselves. Do not just criticise Turkey just because it is Turkey

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