EU is becoming irrelevant in Cyprus

EU is becoming irrelevant in Cyprus

The European Union is insisting on becoming irrelevant in the Cyprus issue despite repeated assertions of hoping to have a role in the resolution on the island.

It was unwise for the EU to process the unilateral application and eventual admission of the Greek Cypriot state as the representative of the whole island. Particularly, after the Greek Cypriot people, with the encouragement of their leadership, voted to kill a comprehensive U.N. peace plan just a week before the May 1, 2004 enlargement. Now, endorsing the unilateral hydrocarbon undertakings of the Greek Cypriot state, accepting the Greek Cypriot exclusive economic zone as if it is the outer territorial boundary and imposing sanctions against Turkey over its gas drilling in disputed waters off Cyprus might seriously hamper any chance the EU might have in Cyprus’ diplomacy, let alone serving a serious blow to already seriously derailed Turkey-EU ties.

Solidarity among EU members is a key component of the raison d’être of the European club. Establishing interdependence among its members, building confidence and ensuring permanent peace and cohesion in Europe have been among the many outstanding successes the EU has achieved since its inception. Particularly, building an atmosphere of solidarity among the member states must be a goal the EU should be proud of. Yet, the EU has neither the competence nor the right to impose unilateral and fictional aspirations of a member state as its sine qua non in relations with a third country, be it Turkey or any other country.

Turkey’s territorial shelf rights are legitimate and, based on international law as well as being one of the countries with the longest Mediterranean coastline, cannot be questioned either by the Greek-Cypriot-run Cyprus or the EU. Turkey has been continuing its activities in the eastern Mediterranean either in its territorial shelf or in the EEZ of the Turkish Cypriots. The Greek Cypriot state might have problems in understanding why Turkish Cypriots have a share in the Cyprus EEZ, but perhaps if they look at the founding agreements and the Constitution – not the one unilaterally, immorally and illegally abrogated by Greek Cypriots – with which the island gained independence from Britain, they might understand why Turkish Cypriots, like their co-founding Greek Cypriot partners, have fundamental and inalienable rights in the resources throughout the island and off the island.

Saying Turkish Cypriots have rights but their share would be deposited at a fund to be available to them after a settlement on the island while Greek Cypriots have the right to unilaterally undertake whatever they consider appropriate is tantamount to holding Turkish Cypriots hostage. Not only the actions Turkey has undertaken in its own territorial shelf but the activities in Turkish Cypriot EEZ have come after years of hard diplomatic activity aimed at convincing Greek Cypriots not to undertake or continue unilateral hydrocarbon activities in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Greek Cypriot state all along defended that hydrocarbon exploration, drilling and such work were within the sovereign competence of the Cyprus government. That was a blatant rejection of the spirit of negotiated settlement. Greek Cypriots refused and repeated proposals of the Turkish Cypriot administration – the latest this week – to establish an ad-hoc joint committee or a company to administer the hydrocarbon resources.

Turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to Turkish Cypriot calls for cooperation and accusing Turkey of acting in defense of its own as well as Turkish Cypriot rights in the eastern Mediterranean must have been criticized by the EU rather than act in support of the Greek Cypriot illegal and immoral demands on grounds of club solidarity. With such an attitude, the EU has risked becoming totally irrelevant in Cyprus peacemaking and lost its already dwarfed diplomatic capability in relations with Turkey.