The EU will be present at the conference on Cyprus to be convened by the UN in Geneva in late April and at the formal negotiations that may follow, a senior EU official said at a press conference in Brussels ahead of the forthcoming Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) of Monday.
Responding to a question posed by the Cyprus News Agency, the senior EU official stated that "the EU will be in Geneva, it will be in the subsequent negotiations with the same status it had in Crans Montana." "This is clear," he said.
He added that "the Cyprus issue is one of the most difficult diplomatic issues, but whatever the solution, it will be implemented with the island inside the EU. We have the acquis communautaire, it is a logical consequence that we will be there.”
Among the points to be discussed at Monday’s FAC is Turkey, the official said, noting that "there is more unity in the Council than ever on the issue of Turkey among Member States."
He said that "the High Representative’s report will be comprehensive and will contain a description of Turkey’s behavior, taking into account all the different possibilities. The measures obviously remain on the table, they are not withdrawn and this will be part of our political guidance."
The official said the EU is also monitoring the human rights and rule of law situation, but whether there will be a reaction, such as sanctions under the new EU regime, "is up to the Member States" in the next phase.
He reiterated that "the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean has improved", adding that "the positive agenda covers everything in EU-Turkey relations".
According to the official, the discussion on Turkey at the FAC will form the foundation for EU leaders’ discussion at the upcoming European Council summit on March 25-26. The discussion on Turkey will feed into the Member States’ comments on the report prepared by the High Representative and will be presented to the leaders, the official explained.
Meanwhile, the President of the European Council will on Friday be holding a video conference with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Turkish Cypriot leadership refutes EU participation
The Turkish Cypriot leadership has in the recent period put its foot down over a potential EU presence in Geneva, citing reasons of lack of impartiality on the part of the bloc given the membership of the Republic of Cyprus and Greece.
Kathimerini Cyprus reports that the Turkish Cypriot leadership appears to be open to seeing EU representatives in Geneva during the three-day talks to be held on April 27-29, but draws the line at the representatives’ ability to actively participate in efforts to find common ground for formal talks.
The north’s leadership claims the EU could participate in discussions involving aspects of the Cyprus problem that have to do with matters of the bloc, but insist that negotiations must take place on a different basis, that of two states with sovereign equality.
In recent statements, the Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said the EU would need the consent of all participating parties to be actively involved in the upcoming peace process, effectively suggesting that his objection would keep the EU at the margins.