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19 June, 2024
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Cyprus faces dilemma as EU puts Turkey's wishes first

Controversial ''gift plan'' raises questions on Cyprus solution

Pavlos Xanthoulis

Pavlos Xanthoulis

On Monday, behind the scenes in Brussels, an agreement was reached and sealed in the evening at the diplomatic level on Euro-Turkish relations. The infamous Borell/Commission document, recommending a seven-pillar gift to Turkey without presupposing a Cyprus solution, was decided to be referred to at a more opportune time. According to the agreement reflected in the Summit Conclusions, it is simply noted that the Borell/Commission document has been submitted and will be discussed at a later point in time.

This compromise agreement, which reflects Nicosia's adjusted positions, simply postpones the battle over the Borell/Commission document. This postponement, at this stage, seems to serve both sides. Nicosia, on the one hand, has dropped the pressure for the immediate adoption of the document. On the other hand, Berlin (and Brussels), although lobbying for the document to be positively received by the "27", did not want to open such an issue at the Summit, given the difficult environment caused by Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán, who had threatened to block the opening of Ukraine's accession negotiations and the revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework.

"this report"..., free of the obligation to solve the Cyprus problem, is the "positive agenda" that will redefine Euro-Turkish relations, as demanded by President Erdogan himself.

This led to a truce in the field of Euro-Turkish relations, pushing the issue to a later date.

Before the ink dried on the diplomatic-level agreement and before the Summit, Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi made sure to signal intentions by subjecting Nicosia to criticism. Not only did he attempt to undermine the agreement, but he did not even maintain appearances.

During the press conference following the General Affairs Council, the Enlargement Commissioner, involved in drafting the Borell/Commission document, indicated that "this report" and the gifts it provides for Turkey, free of the obligation to solve the Cyprus problem, is the "positive agenda" that will redefine Euro-Turkish relations, as demanded by President Erdogan himself.

In other words, the EU Commissioner, on whom President Christodoulides had staked hopes for a Cyprus solution, publicly admitted that the document he co-signed with Mr. Borelll was "demanded and proposed" by President Erdogan. In his statements, Mr. Varhelyi called for "a positive agenda that we put on the table together with the High Representative (Josep Borell). A positive agenda that must lay the foundations for a new beginning, as was also demanded and proposed by President Erdogan and by the new government of Turkey."

The Republic of Cyprus is being asked to accept a document co-signed by Borell-Varhleyi, which was "demanded and proposed" by Mr. Erdogan himself and aligns with his wishes. This situation has led to Berlin and Brussels advocating for seven-pillar gifts to Ankara, with no conditions for a Cyprus settlement.

The grotesque aspect of the story is that these are the very same gifts that President Christodoulides wanted to use from the "EU toolbox" as a lure to get Ankara to agree to a solution to the Cyprus problem. This includes the upgrading of the Customs Union and the EU-Turkey Aviation Agreement, currently offered "free of charge" to Ankara without any obligation to resolve the Cyprus problem.

Apart from the obvious political backlash that Nicosia is facing, it should not escape our attention that the Summit's conclusion marks the end of the "extension" of President Christodoulides' "milestones." The only thing left on the table is the unacceptable Borell/Commission document ordered by Berlin, which, according to the Commissioner responsible, was "demanded and proposed" by Mr. Erdogan himself and therefore, if anything, serves him. Get well soon!

[This op-ed was translated from its Greek original]

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