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26 May, 2024
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Nicosia fares well in intense EU council

European Council statement finalized but heated debate on Russia was up until the wee hours


Nicosia has welcomed a European Council statement that included conclusions on Turkey, after the EU27 leaders held long and protracted consultations that got testy at times especially during Russia talk.

The EU27 leaders adopted Thursday night conclusions on a host of issues, including Turkey by signaling they were ready to enhance relations with Ankara in “a phased, proportionate and reversible” manner but also keeping in place prerequisite conditions established back in March and previous EUCO conclusions.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades expressed satisfaction with the text of the conclusions, with government spokesperson Kyriacos Koushos saying the commander in chief welcomed the text that was unanimously agreed by the 27 leaders as a “product of a long consultation process."

The European Council reverted to the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and the European Union’s relations with Turkey, recalling the EU’s strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the region and in the “development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey.”

Koushos said the president’s satisfaction was based on specific references, such as the Council’s commitment to a federal solution in Cyprus, keeping an eye on Varosha developments, and EU’s plan to continue supporting peace talks following a recent lack of progress in Geneva.

Political pundits said countries geographically closest to Russia resisted the Franco-German approach, while countries with historic economic ties to Moscow supported the initiative

But expectations and conditions for progress were not limited to Turkey, with a lot of bargaining around the table including consultations and tough discussions on Russia that got heated at times.

According to Politico, EU leaders adopted a tough stance towards Russia “only after Poland and the Baltic countries took their own hardline stance toward Germany and France and torpedoed a proposal by the bloc’s biggest powers to seek a summit with President Vladimir Putin.”

The EU leaders threatened new economic sanctions on Russia if Moscow were to persist in “malign, illegal and disruptive activity,” with reports saying an idea floated by Germany and France regarding “meetings at leaders level” did not get approval.

Political pundits said countries geographically closest to Russia resisted the Franco-German approach, while countries with historic economic ties to Moscow supported the initiative, which was rumored to have been an attempt to mirror US President Biden's approach towards Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But the Council did approve without difficulty a statement focused on setting expectations and demands for the Kremlin, which would be a prerequisite for new diplomatic engagement.

“The European Council expects the Russian leadership to demonstrate a more constructive engagement and political commitment and stop actions against the EU and its Member States, as well as against third countries,” the EU27 wrote in their conclusions.

A more active discussion had been expected on Turkey but days before the meeting, EU High Representative Josep Borrell warned foreign ministers that the leaders would not be expected to delve into deep discussions about Turkey and Cyprus, pointing to a much bigger issue on how to deal with Russia.

But the EU has invited UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to attend the summit, with the UN boss also expected to meet with Anastasiades Friday morning at 11:30am.

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, who also traveled to Brussels after seeking a meeting with the UN chief, is expected to meet Guterres in the early afternoon, around 1:30pm.

EU27 leaders will also meet Friday to discuss the pandemic.

Cyprus  |  Turkey  |  Russia  |  EUCO  |  European Council  |  EU27  |  Guterres  |  Anastasiades  |  Tatar

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