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Our View: Turkey called all the shots at EU summit

President Nicos Anastasiades with EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Brussels

IN THE END, Turkey secured what it asked for from the EU and Cyprus’ red lines were “trampled on” as a Cyprus newspaper correspondent had been warning ahead of Sunday’s summit. One chapter in Turkey’s accession negotiations will be opened this month and several (no number was mentioned) more that were blocked by the Cyprus Republic next year, with the European Commission undertaking to complete all the preparatory work by the end of March.

In other words, a time-frame was included in the agreement for the opening of the chapters, regardless of whether Turkey recognises the Cyprus Republic in the meantime. President Anastasiades submitted a statement to the meeting, saying that Turkey’s membership prospects should depend on the fulfilment of its treaty obligations, in accordance with the negotiations framework. It was a face-saving exercise allowing Anastasiades to claim that Cyprus’ demands had been heard, but the truth is that any objections Cyprus may have had were unceremoniously swept aside.

As we had argued last week, we could not have expected anything less, given Brussels conviction that the best way to tackle the refugee crisis was through securing Turkey’s co-operation. This had given Turkey such bargaining power that Ankara could dictate its terms, which the EU was forced to accept. There was no way Brussels would have allowed Nicosia to block a deal deemed of vital importance by many member-states because Turkey had failed to honour its treaty obligations. It was terribly naive to have believed that Nicosia could have got its way, as some of our political parties were suggesting.

This did not stop them from attacking Anastasiades yesterday for his alleged failure to take a firm stand. DIKO leader Nicolas Papadopoulos claimed the government had suffered a decisive defeat and Turkey “triumphed at the expense of Greece and Cyprus”. What was he and his fellow travellers suggesting the government should have done? Allow the worst refugee crisis facing Europe since World War II to veer completely out of control because Turkey refused to recognise the Cyprus Republic? Anyone with some common sense would know that the second smallest country of the 28-member bloc would not be allowed to call the shots in order to prove a point. This does not happen in the real world.

In any case, the Commission was not of the view that Cyprus’ objections had been ignored. As its big-wigs mentioned after the summit, by the time the negotiations on the blocked chapters opened there could be a settlement of the Cyprus problem and therefore no reason to keep them frozen. Papadopoulos said nothing about Brussels’ unjustified optimism.

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