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Media Watch 2005

22 April 2005
Source: Cyprus Mai
Author: Myria Antoniadou
Comment: The following letter appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 22 April 2005.
Cyprus hails EU deal as triumph
"CYPRUS yesterday won an important battle in Brussels, managing to include for the first time two references in an EU document which can be used to pressure Turkey into recognising the Republic of Cyprus... Britain, backed by Italy, had blocked the common position in Tuesday’s Association Council"

CYPRUS yesterday won an important battle in Brussels, managing to include for the first time two references in an EU document which can be used to pressure Turkey into recognising the Republic of Cyprus.

In the EU’s common position at the Association Council with Turkey, next week, the member states will refer to the need for normalisation of relations between Ankara and member states, including Cyprus, and the implementation of Turkey’s customs union agreement to apply to all 25 member states, an outcome described as “highly satisfactory” by the Cyprus government.

The agreement was sealed at the Permanent Representatives’ (COREPER) meeting yesterday, after the two major parties to the dispute, Cyprus and the UK, managed to reach a deal the previous evening.

Britain, backed by Italy, had blocked the common position in Tuesday’s Association Council.

London had strongly disagreed with the text proposed by the Luxembourg Presidency, urging Turkey to “establish bilateral relations” with all 25 member states. It felt such a reference went beyond what had been agreed at the EU level until today and touched upon the settlement of the Cyprus problem and recognition of Cyprus by Turkey.

In the end, a reference calling on Turkey to “normalise its bilateral relations” with all member states, including Cyprus, was agreed.

This is the first EU document referring to normalisation of relations between Cyprus and Turkey. Sources in Brussels said this means Nicosia will be in a position to demand the same reference in the future.

London also accepted a reference urging Turkey not only to sign but also implement the protocol extending the Ankara Agreement (customs union). However, there is no time-framework set out.

Sources said there was some rephrasing to this reference, so that it mentions implementation but does not put any pressure on Ankara before it starts negotiations scheduled for October 3.

The EU also calls upon Turkey to lift its restrictions to trade and transport, to allow Cyprus-flagged ships to dock at its ports, and also stop blocking Cyprus’ participation in international organisations.

Turkey is encouraged to continue supporting a solution in Cyprus in line with EU principles and within the framework of the UN, and is called upon to help create a positive climate that would facilitate a settlement.

Finally, the EU calls for the immediate implementation of decisions by the European Court of Human Rights.
In Nicosia, Foreign Minister George Iacovou last night hailed the outcome.
“We have achieved a highly satisfactory draft and the importance is that today’s decision is the EU’s common position,” Iacovou said.

The minister said there were “very good references” concerning the adjustment protocol, its signature and ratification, and its swift implementation.

“This would be the first step towards normalisation of conditions with all EU member states including Cyprus,” the foreign minister said.

“Basically, this compromise is better in some points than the initial draft, which we had accepted showing good will,” he added.

Turkey is also urged to contribute towards a favourable climate for the comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem, a reference related to properties and Turkish settlers, Iacovou said.

“Consequently, the European position is very satisfactory for the Cyprus Republic.”
While the agreement satisfied Nicosia, it made other interested parties “reasonably happy”, one source in Brussels said, even though it was “not ideal” for those countries that do not want to put any pressure on Ankara.

It also marked the beginning of more dialogue and co-operation between Cyprus
and Britain.

In view of the British six-month presidency, starting in July, finding agreements “outside the room” and not “fighting out battles” in EU meetings is the way to proceed, a source noted.

If there had been no agreement in Brussels yesterday, it was very likely that the Association Council would have been cancelled. This in itself would not have been very important, as the two parties would just have noted their positions.

However, it would have sent political messages and “poisoned existing difficult relations between London and Nicosia,” a source said.

What remains to be seen is how Turkey will react to the decision, even though it can do nothing more than express opposition.

The Turkish government is said to have been unhappy with the text and apportioned much blame on the Luxembourg Presidency."