EU tells Ankara to stay calm, respect UN framework for Cyprus

The European Commission is fully supportive of a Cyprus settlement process under the auspices of the United Nations. [James Crisp/Flickr]

The European Commission backs a Cyprus settlement process under the auspices of the United Nations and calls on Turkey to refrain from creating any source of friction that could damage neighbourly relations, an EU spokesperson told EURACTIV.com.

Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu heated up the Cyprus reunification debate recently by raising the possibility of a “quasi-annexation” of the island’s northern territory, occupied by Turkey since 1974.

Ertuğruloğlu described how the North of Cyprus could look like: “An autonomous republic where Turkey may be responsible for defence and foreign affairs but other affairs are within the rule of the republic, just as in the France-Monaco model or UK-Gibraltar model.”

Asked to comment on the proposal, Recep Akdağ, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister responsible for Cyprus affairs, did not rule out such a scenario.

“Turkey and Turkish Cyprus will decide on a political solution together,” he told the daily Milliyet on 9 October.

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The statements triggered strong reactions from Athens, which dismissed them as “unacceptable”.

Such a settlement would “undermine the actions of UN Secretary-General António Guterres to resolve the Cyprus issue,” stated Giorgos Koumoutsakos, the shadow foreign affairs minister of the centre-right New Democracy party, currently in opposition.

EURACTIV asked the European Commission on Monday whether this “scenario” is on the table in the event of another failure of the Cyprus talks.

“We believe everyone involved is aware of the need to avoid any kind of source of friction which could damage the neighbourly relations,” a European Commission spokesperson replied.

The Commission spokesperson sent another message to Turkey, saying the EU remained fully supportive of the Cyprus settlement process “under UN auspices”.

“We stand ready to provide whatever assistance both parties and the UN would find most useful when the time is right to resume talks,” the spokesperson added.

Following the failure of the Cyprus talks in Crans Montana in July, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said it was impossible to find a solution within the parameters of the UN mission.

“This outcome shows that within the UN Good Offices mission’s parameters a resolution cannot be found. There is no meaning left in continuing within these parameters,” Çavuşoğlu stressed.

Since then, however, Turkey has never clarified the meaning of such a scenario. Ankara has not repeated this argument but has not publicly denied it either.

In an interview with EURACTIV in July, Greece’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias said that any solution should be within the framework of the UN and more generally, within the framework of international law.

“There can be no solution to the Cyprus problem by imposing mechanisms and procedures that are outside the international context.”

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