THE EUROPEAN Parliament in Strasbourg approved the progress report on Turkey by a very comfortable majority yesterday. It was carried through by 375 votes in favour, 133 against and 87 abstentions. There was also a reference to Cyprus, which is unlikely to go down very well with our hard-liners.
The press release issued by the European Parliament yesterday said the following in relation to the Cyprus talks: “Welcoming the considerable progress made in the Cyprus reunification talks, MEPs pledge support for the evolution of the Republic of Cyprus into ‘a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality between the two communities and equal opportunities for all its citizens’. They urge both parties to implement all agreed measures without further delay, emphasising that non-settlement of the Cyprus issue affects the development of EU-Turkey relations.”
The reference to the ‘evolution of the Cyprus Republic’ is certain to be picked up over the next few days by our hard-line deputies, especially as we are in an election campaign during which their tough rhetoric is stepped up. Yesterday’s issue of Simerini, previewing the report had noted that “the windows had been left open so that through reference to ‘evolution’ interpretations of a successor state could be given, that is, for a virgin birth which Turkey has been seeking.” Analysing reports or resolutions and putting the most negative spin possible on them is very predictable as is the failure to put things into perspective and see the bigger picture.
As the release said, “MEPs praise Turkey for hosting the largest refugee population in the world, and note that it remains a ‘key strategic partner for the EU’ but nonetheless call for progress on rule of law and fundamental values.” The report also noted there was ‘regression’ on freedom of expression and the independence of the judiciary and “called for progress on rule of law and fundamental values.” It was a very soft approach towards a state that imprisoned journalists took control of newspapers and showed scant regard for the rule of law, but it reflected the EU’s dependence on Turkey with regard to tackling the refugee crisis. The reference to the need to recognise the Armenian genocide may have angered Ankara, which returned the report, but overall Turkey could not complain about the report.
In this context, the European Parliament’s resolution, voted yesterday and saying that EU-Turkey co-operation on migration “should be uncoupled from the EU accession negotiating process” was little more than wishful thinking. Turkey would never allow this to happen and we in Cyprus should take it into account when analysing Ankara’s relations with Brussels. Leaving aside the grandstanding, if Turkey consistently fulfils its obligations on the refugees over the next few months, the virgin birth will be the least of our worries.