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21 April, 2024
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Cyprus takes a backseat as the EU initiates gift-giving to Turkey

In a surprising move, Cyprus loses its negotiating edge as President Christodoulides concedes, allowing gifts to flow to Turkey without tying them to the Cyprus problem resolution


In today's Sunday edition of Kathimerini, journalist Pavlos Xanthoulis delves into the intricate diplomatic maneuvers and decisions made by Nicos Christodoulides' government in response to the Borel/Commission document on EU-Turkey relations, shedding light on how Cyprus may have compromised its position on the European stage.

Nicosia embraces the Borel document

In a surprising move, Nicosia, under the direction of President Nicos Christodoulides, has conceded ground in the initial battle over the Borel/Commission document at the EU, proposing a new long-term relationship with Turkey. The document, offering seven pillars of gifts to Ankara, including upgrading its Customs Union, was perceived as lacking a connection to the resolution of the Cyprus problem. Contrary to claims of improvements, evidence suggests the Christodoulides government's actions in December signaled a retreat, leaving Cyprus vulnerable.

The Cyprus government initially sought a factual reference to the Borel document in the summit conclusions, avoiding it as a framework for Euro-Turkish relations. To safeguard Cyprus' interests, a proposal was submitted by the Foreign Ministry to discuss the document within the context of "previous EU conclusions." However, Germany, aiming for autonomy for the Borel document, pressured for the removal of references to previous conclusions. President Christodoulides, initially assertive, eventually agreed to Berlin's wishes, compromising Cyprus' leverage over Turkey.

Amid the disorderly retreat, the European Council's conclusions on December 15 acknowledged the Borel/Commission report without referencing "previous conclusions," granting the document autonomy in regulating Euro-Turkish relations. This decision leaves Nicosia politically exposed, seemingly susceptible to Berlin's influence, and losing its only European leverage over Turkey.

Nicosia's consensus on a pure reference to the Borel/Commission document implies it is now the basis for discussions on the new long-term EU-Turkey relationship. Strikingly, this stance weakens Cyprus' defense, lacking the previous conclusions as a foundation. The Borel document recommends seven gifts to Turkey without linking them to the resolution of the Cyprus problem.

On the EU table, the Borel/Commission document proposes gifts to Turkey, including dialogue resumption, participation in informal meetings, reactivation of the European Investment Bank, migration agreement extension, visa facilitation, Customs Union upgrading, and a Comprehensive Aviation Agreement. The source at EU headquarters suggests a gradual implementation, starting with the reactivation of high-level dialogues and Turkish Foreign Minister participation in informal Councils, such as in Gymnich.

Read the full article in Kathimerini's printed edition today

Cyprus  |  Turkey  |  Europe  |  diplomacy

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