Turkey’s EU bid meets another Cyprus roadblock

April 16, 2010

Negotiating Turkey’s accession to the European Union hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. But it may be about to get tougher still.

Europeans are already divided over the prospect of inviting a largely Muslim nation into their club of 27 states.  And while some are attracted by Turkey’s huge economic potential, that’s  frequently shadowed by its much-criticised human rights record.

As a result, Ankara’s membership negotiations with Brussels have, perhaps predictably, been slow.

Now a presidential election in northern Cyprus, a sliver of land only twice the size of London, is threatening to wreck any chance of a serious revival in those talks for years.

If opinion polls prove correct, hardline right-wing candidate Dervis Eroglu will oust incumbent Mehmet Ali Talat in the vote this Sunday. Reunification talks between the province, recognised as a state only by Ankara, and the rest of Cyprus could grind to a halt under Eroglu’s leadership.

The conflict started shortly after Britain granted independence to the Mediterranean island in 1960, sparking fighting between its Greek and Turkish communities.

In 1974, a Greek-inspired coup prompted Turkey to invade the island and carve out its own province in the north. Decades of wearisome stop-and-go reunification talks have followed.

Why is this vital for Turkey’s accession talks? For one, EU governments will not accept a new member in the midst of a territorial dispute that involves a military
standoff. Turkey has about 30,000 troops on Cyprus and as a result the Greek Cypriots will always block its EU negotiations.  Any trouble on Cyprus — or even a hint thereof — will tend to play into the hands of critics of Turkey’s accession.

But the EU is in a bind. It wants to keep Turkey engaged because Ankara’s clout on the global stage is growing. With a population of 70 million and a location on the globe that makes it a cultural and trade crossroads, Turkey is a resurgent economic and geopolitical power.

It showed its teeth last year, threatening to block an appointment of a new head of NATO and winning concessions in return. On the table is also its role as a behind-the-scenes Middle East liaison, its close relations with Iran and its control over energy supply routes. Knowing this, Turkey is able to use Cyprus as a diplomatic bargaining chip in its EU talks. 

The EU’s new enlargement chief, Stefan Fuele, says the next move belongs to Ankara. Funnily enough, Ankara’s representatives in Brussels suggest the next move is up to European Union. From the Turkish point of view, it the EU needs Turkey more, not the other way around.

What Fuele needs is a plan if talks come crashing down.

4 comments

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This article is somewhat interesting and it shows and brings some religious colors to us.
We are aware of Turkey!s tremendous progress on trade and commerce, good foreign relationship with many western nations, good life styles, potential on travel and tourism and happy to say that, multi racial, multi religious country.
As per survey by many world organizations, every year, more and more Russians, and Indians, especially from film world are visiting to Turkey for their business and for pleasure travels.
Cyprus problems are there in many decades.
Cyprus is a small country and not much in appreciable progress on many fields.
If Turkey joins with western nations, then, it will be mutually more beneficial to all developing nations in terms of trade and commerce, more industrial,commercial success in future years.
Even though, i have not visited to Turkey,still, i likes their literature, historical back grounds, good pictures from this country,more and more development, good infrastructures are widely welcomed by any right attitude minds.

Posted by mdspatsy | Report as abusive

Turkey’s EU bid meets another Cyprus roadblock
Like it or not Turkey is part of Europe and the European Union needs to accept it.
The political snags over Cyprus, would be eased when Turkey is part of the EU political system.

Posted by The1eyedman | Report as abusive

With its succession of gangster regimes persecuting their own people in Anatolia, squabbling about Cyprus and poking their snouts into America’s illegal wars – tell me again, exactly what does Europe need Turkey for?

Beats the hell out of me.

Posted by HBC | Report as abusive

May want to add Armenia to your list so as to enlighten you. It’s easy to point to the obvious but Turkey has a reconciliation issues that exposes Europe with geopolitical concerns which make the Cyprus issue look as a tea party dispute.

Posted by patrickdh | Report as abusive