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Our View: Minor diplomatic gains will not change Turkey’s stance

THE GOVERNMENT, understandably, was satisfied with the conclusions of the report on enlargement that was approved by the EU General Affairs Council on Tuesday. Foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides said that Cyprus, with support from Greece and Austria, succeeded in keeping eight chapters of the EU-Turkey accession negotiation frozen.

Kasoulides also referred to the part in the conclusions that noted Turkey’s refusal to recognise the Cyprus Republic, in accordance with the additional protocol to the Association Agreement. The report pointed out that recognising all member-states was a key component of the accession process. It also said that it expected Turkey to actively support the Cyprus talks as “Turkey’s commitment and contribution in concrete terms to a comprehensive settlement is crucial.”

The government could not have asked for more. Even DIKO, which has a tendency to interpret most things in a negative light, was satisfied with the conclusions and was particularly pleased, according to an announcement issued yesterday, that an attempt to unfreeze two chapters of Turkey’s accession process had been foiled. The party, however, was disappointed “with the absence of any mention of the Turkish Navtex and the recent invasion by Barbaros in the Cypriot EEZ and, worse still, the absence of any condemnation or mention of the imposition of sanctions against Turkey.”

There had to be an element of negativity in a DIKO announcement, but the overall verdict was positive. The conclusions “confirm that there is scope for causing real political cost to Turkey and this should be exploited with decisiveness and consistency.” The party believed that this could be achieved by a “diplomatic campaign” in all EU member-states and highlighting how Turkey was acting against their interests.

This is what happens every time Cyprus secures a minor diplomatic success over Turkey. The politicians and parties produce simplistic analyses claiming that Ankara could be forced into making concessions on the Cyprus problem. There have been countless such successes at international fora and at the EU over the years, but these have not changed the Turkish stance on Cyprus even marginally. The European Parliament’s resolution condemning the violations of the Cypriot EEZ was also heralded as a big success by the parties, but the Barbaros remained in the Cypriot EEZ.

Of course, parties like DIKO use such diplomatic successes to justify their opposition to a settlement, citing them as proof of what could be achieved by an “assertive policy” and “change of strategy.” Need we point out that decades of securing moral victories over Turkey have achieved nothing tangible? The occupation troops are still here, no territory has been returned, no refugee has returned home and the north is fast becoming a province of Turkey.

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