20 December 2004
Source: Washington Times
Author: Andrew Borowiec
Greek Cypriots bitter over EU's talks with Turkey
"Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was hailed on his return home from Brussels as "the conqueror of the EU."
NICOSIA, Cyprus -- Frustrated and bitter, Greek Cypriots saw the outcome
of last week's European Union summit as a blow to their aspirations and
a major boost to the European ambitions of their archenemy Turkey.
Some politicians described the situation as a "complete
catastrophe," and editorials predicted other setbacks for the
Greek-Cypriot majority of this divided Mediterranean island.
The EU summit approved the start in October of membership
negotiations with Turkey, a process that will require at least 10 years
and involve numerous hurdles. As a new EU member, Cyprus could have
vetoed the decision, but did not, despite the urging of some 60 percent
of Greek Cypriots.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was hailed on his
return home from Brussels as "the conqueror of the EU" and "the new star
of the EU," commented the Cyprus Mail. But the Greek-Cypriot delegation
returned to Nicosia "glum-faced and mumbling words of unconvincing
"For weeks, the president's lieutenants waxed lyrical about our
power of veto," the newspaper wrote, referring to Greek-Cypriot
President Tassos Papadopoulos. "We could still have vetoed, but we
didn't, proving that while we have the right of veto, to exercise it is
not as easy in the face of the full force of power politics."
"The summit has starkly exposed the realities of our position," the
According to some diplomats, the summit's decision implied growing
international sympathy for Turkey and a lack of interest in Greek
Cypriots' long-standing demand that the island be reunited on their
The Cyprus issue -- and Turkey's refusal to recognize the
Greek-Cypriot administration on the island -- had threatened to capsize
the summit. Under a carefully crafted compromise formula, Turkey agreed
to sign a customs union protocol with the 10 recently admitted EU
members, including Cyprus.
But Mr. Erdogan said bluntly that such a gesture did not imply
Cyprus was forced to accept the uncomfortable formula.
Turkey, which has some 35,000 troops on the island, is the only
backer of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which governs
37 percent of the territory.
According to Greek-Cypriot parliament member Marios Matsakis, the
EU decision means that there will be "no recognition, no withdrawal of
Turkish troops, no recognition of the Armenian genocide."
Turkey successfully opposed the inclusion in the summit agenda of
the Cyprus problem or of the World War I massacres of Armenians by the
Ottoman Empire, which some countries wanted to use to prevent Turkey
from being admitted to the EU accession proces."