Commission seeks a ‘European solution’ to the Cyprus issue

However, what a European solution practically means is still not clear. [European Council/Flickr]

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said yesterday (27 July) that the EU executive wants a “European solution” to the Cyprus issue.

However, what a European solution exactly means in a practical sense is still not clear.

Press reports in Athens and Nicosia stressed yesterday that Juncker sent a letter to Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades saying that any solution to the Cyprus problem “should be a European solution”.

“The EU provides a strong framework within which the historical ties of the two communities should be further consolidated,” the letter read.

Contacted by EURACTIV, a Commission spokesperson confirmed the letter but clarified that it was sent to “both leaders”, meaning Greek Cypriot Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot Mustafa Akinzi.

“The President asks both leaders, for the benefit of all Cypriots and of the European Union, to continue their efforts until they have reached a political agreement,” the EU official said.

The Commission spokesperson stressed that as it had been the case in the past, both leaders may count on the continued support of the European Commission and of the president personally for the continuation of the talks.

“Any solution to the Cyprus problem will have to be a European solution because the EU offers the best prospects for lasting peace, prosperity for both communities and the whole country, and stability in the region,” the official added.

What is a European solution?

In an interview with EURACTIV, Greece’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias urged the EU to be clearer regarding Turkey’s demands for intervention rights over Cyprus.

“The EU must make its position clearer, as it does not say it clearly when speaking with Turkey, that it cannot have parts of its territory be occupied by a third country and that this country has intervention rights over an EU member state,” he emphasised.

Greek FM: EU should be louder against Turkish 'intervention rights' in member states

EXCLUSIVE / In a wide-ranging interview, Greece’s foreign minister on Sunday (16 July) outlined his country’s position on the failed Cyprus reunification talks, scolding UN envoy Espen Barth Eide and rejecting “interventions rights” for Turkey in any future settlement. He also warned against expecting any breakthrough with FYROM.

EURACTIV asked the Commission spokesperson to comment on the Greek minister’s call, but no reply was provided.

Considering the vulnerability of the issue, EURACTIV understands that the EU does not intend to take a public position regarding the final shape of a solution.

On the other hand, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said last month that Cyprus should be “a normal state from the first day [of the solution]”.

An EU diplomat told EURACTIV that a “European solution” to the Cyprus issue could potentially mean no derogation to the European acquis. At the same time, a European solution should not allow Turkey, a third member state, become a “driver” for the developments in an EU member state, the diplomat stated.

Greece and Cyprus repeatedly urged for a greater EU involvement in the talks, in which the later participated as an observer.

In addition, both countries asked for an increased EU role in the mechanism that would monitor the proper implementation of a possible solution stating that the EU membership of Cyprus is the best safeguard for the rights of both communities and all Cypriots; however, both Turkey and Turkish Cypriots rejected a substantial EU role.

“This stance was disappointing,” the EU diplomat emphasised.

Talat: Failure to solve Cyprus issue will push Turkish Cypriots closer to Ankara

EXCLUSIVE / If no solution is found for the Cyprus issue, the Turkish Cypriot side will “inevitably” grow closer to Ankara, Mehmet Ali Talat said in an interview with EURACTIV.