12° Nicosia,
23 May, 2024
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Cyprus's role in the Euro-Turkish equation

Nicosia's triumph or turmoil? Unveiling Cyprus's Euro-Turkish balancing act

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

On a communicative level, as is customary, Nicosia may project a triumphant image regarding the interconnection between Cyprus and Euro-Turkish relations. However, both the final phrasing of the conclusions and Cyprus's initial aspirations argue in the opposite direction.

The reality is that Cyprus, amidst the current state of Euro-Turkish relations, lacks sufficient leverage within the "27" to extract anything positive and tangible as a "precondition" for Turkey's EU accession. This is not only because such a pursuit lacks substantive backing from either Europe or Turkey itself, but also because, both cumulatively—20 years post-2004—and in its contemporary evaluation, the unresolved Cyprus issue no longer holds the status of a sine qua non condition for any stakeholder in Brussels, Berlin, or Paris. In the current context, the EU's relationship with Turkey is primarily transactional, fragmented in its concessions to Turkey in exchange for a comprehensive accession, and guided by the stark realism of Turkey's overall relationship with the West, a part of which inevitably involves a harsh core, alongside the EU itself.

Nevertheless, any positive assessment garnered by Nicosia will be strategically utilized by Ms. Olcayin during the forthcoming 20 days leading up to her third diplomatic tour to European capitals, commencing from Berlin on the imminent Thursday, April 25. Subsequent stops will include Paris and Brussels, culminating in Cyprus on May 7, in a concerted effort, albeit hopefully devoid of acrimony, to break the seven-year deadlock in the Cyprus talks.

Clearly, if Erdogan fails to greenlight these efforts, optimism about the envoy's endeavor wanes. However, this alone cannot ensure a favorable perception vis-à-vis third parties amidst the blame game orchestrated by Nicosia. Perhaps because even if Turkey wields greater potential influence in the current context of deadlock resolution efforts, a new impasse would hardly suffice to bolster the credibility of the Cypriot government. If indeed true, this realization should not only stir apprehensions but also serve as the impetus for reevaluating the strategic narrative adopted by Nicosia, moving away from the "we want, Turkey refuses" stance of the current endeavor. Such a reflection goes beyond superficiality and necessitates a comprehensive assessment of decades-long unresolved issues surrounding Cyprus, particularly the pivotal junctures of 2004 and 2017.

In light of this, the president's call for a national assembly on Friday and Ms. Olcayin's scheduled return to Cyprus in the post-Easter week underscore the critical nature of the current twenty-day period for Cyprus. The reminder remains unchanged: Substance and efficacy take precedence over mere communication; a Plan B must accompany every action, and readiness should prevail irrespective of Erdogan's disposition—be it engagement with the Cyprus issue or steadfast adherence to the uncompromising stance of a two-state solution. These principles always constitute a formidable and well-prepared lineup. Here's to hoping that our side fields an equally resilient eleven.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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