Who Lost Turkey?

That’s the question on the cover of this week’s European edition of Newsweek, and it’s a good one.

The rift isn’t formal yet, as the EU will likely opt for only a face-saving partial suspension of negotiations after a deadlock on Cyprus failed to be resolved last week. But it takes no special reading between the lines to see that a fundamental tipping point has been reached. Late last week Cyprus threatened to “veto” Turkey’s entire bid. French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy, kicking off his campaign, also called for the suspension of further talks. “Turkey’s place is not in the EU,” said he.

Long experience with the EU and its predecessors warns against saying never and assuming that anything is ever completely settled. On the other hand, Turkey first signed an Association Agreement with the European Community before the Beatles had a #1 hit in America. That’s now longer than the entire lifespan of East Germany.

There are reasons why Turkish membership will take time, and why membership will be difficult for all concerned. But frankly, I can’t see how Europe’s interests are served by a definitive rejection. An important opportunity is slipping away.

37 thoughts on “Who Lost Turkey?

  1. Unfortunately, I think this time around Turkey lost Turkey. Either you want to be in the EU, and you conduct yourself accordingly against *all* EU-States, or you don’t. Then you can block Cyprus traffic.

    But either/or. If France had blocked Traffic from the Saarland the EU wouldn’t have gotten started. I think the current freeze is correct. I don’tt think however it’s going to be the last word. Times (and People) change.

  2. Well, the rise of obnoxious Balkan-style nationalism in Turkey isn’t helping at all. (Well, “rise”. Turkey’s always been pretty nationalist. But nationalism is become more explicitly paranoid and xenophobic, which is always a bad sign.)

    Cyprus is complicated, but it’s hard not to feel a twinge of sympathy for the Turks. They did everything right with the referendum, and got absolutely nothing in return.

    Letting Cyprus in before the referendum was, in retrospect, a pretty huge mistake. Oh, well.

    Doug M.

  3. “Unfortunately, I think this time around Turkey lost Turkey. Either you want to be in the EU, and you conduct yourself accordingly against *all* EU-States, or you don’t. Then you can block Cyprus traffic.”

    So what about Cyprus blocking opening up direct trade links with North Cyprus then? As a result the EU is not delivering on its part of the Ankara agreement. I would agree that Turkey should cease behaving as childishly as it does on the Cyprus issue. But as (Greek) Cyprus (and consequently the EU) is doing the same thing, I would also say that Turkey has a point…

  4. Cyprus seems to have a lot to do with it seemingly having reneged on commitments made before entry but surely the tail would be too small to wag the dog without the acquiescence of some of the larger countries.

    In particular I don’t understand where the French animus comes from. Is it simply populist Islamophobia, more subtle political or diplomatic issues or fear of dilution of the French role?

  5. Jack,

    I think your question is one of those ‘all of the above’ things. The main problem, however, is that they think for some silly reason that Turkey will be a second Trojan horse for the Americans and will dilute prospects of a ‘political union’. I don’t think these are really convincing arguments anymore, but that doesn’t stop people believing.

  6. I went crazy when I saw the “Who Lost Turkey?” headline. If Turkey really is “lost” to the EU, Europeans will look back on the results (a Turkey closer to the Middle East than the rest of Europe, more feelings of alienation from European Muslims, and the EU defined, in the eyes of most of the world, as ‘Christian club”), some years down the road, and rue the day they turned their backs on Ankara.

  7. “They did everything right with the referendum, and got absolutely nothing in return.”

    Doug, that assumes that the Annan proposal wasn’t fatally flawed to begin with, as a result of the Turkish state’s stance during the initial negotiations. There’s a great difference between what the Turkish Cypriots want and what the Turkish army wants.

    The latter sees Cyprus as a strategic issue for Turkey proper, and this is the real focus of the nationalist propaganda in Turkey.

    I suggest you check out the recommendations of the post-referendum House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee on how to move matters forward. It brings out many of the ways in which the original Annan plan failed to address the real concerns of the Greek Cypriots – and was thus bound to fail.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmselect/cmfaff/113/11308.htm#a30

    The north is isolated because it is the product of an illegal military occupation. Why on earth should the EU or the international community relax international pressure without some sign of goodwill from the Turkish state? It is precisely this pressure which, by causing ever-greater divergence between Turkish Cypriot interests and the interests of the Turkish state, is likely to lead to a desirable outcome for both island communities. Wanting to reward the Turkish Cypriots for their willingness to seek a solution is entirely understandable; rewarding the Turkish military for its intransigent insistence on maintaining an occupation as a strategic asset and for its colonization of the island by settling it with Turks from the mainland, whose presence is resented by the original Turkish community, is another matter.

    It’s also relevant to ask what forces within Turkey are most opposed to the EU accession process in the first place.

  8. @ John Montague — John, I’m unimpressed with the report, which basically says “these are the things the Greek Cypriots are concerned about” without much consideration of whether those concerns are valid.

    For instance, the Greeks claimed that the Annan Plan didn’t go far enough or fast enough in withdrawing Turkish troops. The Plan would have gradually ramped them down to a “tripwire” force of a few hundred men by the end of next decade. Not good enough, said the Greek Cypriots. Okay, and the result is… no reduction in Turkish troops at all. Hm.

    Other major reasons for rejection: the Plan didn’t provide for deportation of all Turkish settlers on the island, nor did it guarantee full compensation for everyone who lost property on the Turkish side. Well, okay… so, no plan means what? More Turkish settlers, and no compensation at all. Again, hm.

    The Greek Cypriots claimed that they simply weren’t willing to accept a “compromise” that gave them very little. Perhaps. But if that were really the case, we’d expect to see the Cypriots continuing to push for new negotiations. In fact, quite the opposite: since the referendum, the Greek side has become more intransigent, not less. It doesn’t look like they want a better deal; it looks like they don’t want a deal at all.

    At the time the plan was rejected — and it was overwhelmingly rejected, by more than three to one — it seemed to me that we were seeing an interesting combination of paranoid nationalism and cynical calculation. The nationalism needs no explanation; the calculation was that Cyprus, already in the EU, would be able to keep the north isolated indefinitely. I think that’s true for the medium term. In the long term, I wonder if it may not come back and bite… but that’s a story for another post.

    — All this is not to say that there weren’t real problems with the Plan. There were. But those problems aren’t the reasons the Plan was rejected.

    “Wanting to reward the Turkish Cypriots for their willingness to seek a solution is entirely understandable; rewarding the Turkish military… is another matter.”

    The problem here is that the Turkish Cypriots haven’t received anything either. They bit the bullet and voted for the Plan, shoving Denktash aside and annoying Ankara. The outcome: from the Greek Cypriots, they got a finger in the eye; from the international community, a pat on the head, but nothing more.

    If I had to rank the players from best behaved to worst, I’d say Turkish Cypriots — Athens — Ankara — Greek Cypriots. Yet the Greek Cypriots are coming out on top, and the Turkish Cypriots are screwed. Something not right there.

    Doug M.

  9. So let me see if I’ve got your argument correct Doug – The Turkish state blocked a real peace process geared towards Cypriot interests rather than mainland Turkish strategic considerations. A faulty plan resulted and was, as per expectations, rejected, but somehow, the Greek Cypriots are to blame for rejecting it. The fact that the Turkish troops are still illegally in occupation is confirmation that they were wrong to do so. About right ? Sounds a bit like ” Have you stopped beating your wife ? ” to me.

    The only real hope for a solution is for the Turkish Cypriots to call for a Turkish military withdrawal. They are increasingly aware that they have been betrayed by the mainland Government but repression of journalists is often quite harsh in the North The dreadful Papadopoulos, by pursuing legalistic attacks against the North, is not doing what he should to promote real reconciliation either. But we should be clear that it is essentially the government of Turkey, not that of Cyprus, that is making life hard for the Turkish Cypriots, by locking them into illegality.

    Turkey is so important for regional stability, European energy security and as a potential economic partner that every effort should be made to keep the accession train on the rails. The French ‘Armenian Genocide’ vote in parliament is irresponsible stupidity, oil on the fire. But for as long as Turkish nationalism, both religious and secular, remains at odds with the European project, it is up to TUSIAD and other Turkish interests to bring about an appropriate change in public perceptions, not up to the EU to twist itself into knots following the game being playing out between military secularism and Islamic democracy in Turkey.

  10. The E.U. will be hostage to Cyprus until the passage of the new Constitution. French and Dutch voters, basically voted to have E.U. policy dictated by religious nationalists of a divided island. Brilliant move uncle Piet.

    Formerly it had been the educated elite and business classes driving Turkey’s move to accession, now those groups seem neutral and it is the moderate islamists who see accession as a way to get the state out of the mosques (Turkey’s system is modelled on the French laicism where the state regulates mosques to keep out extremists)

    Cyprus is a cluster-f of moderate proportions.

    Turkey and the E.U. got played by the Greek Cypriot nationalists and the Orthodox church on the Island. Papadopoulos forbid the E.U. or the U.N. from discussing the details of the Annan Plan on local media, and Makyaros . Papadopoulos knew exactly what he was doing, and talked out of both sides of his mouth to the E.U., the U.S. and the U.N. He also knew that all the threats expressed by the E.U. were toothless because of the Greek veto.

    Greek security concerns were fictitious as Turkish troops were literally packed and ready to go upon passage of the Annan Plan. The Turkish side had allowed their people to actually find out what was involved, look at the settlement mechanisms, and look for a way for a resolution. Papadopoulos wanted a divided island to enter the E.U. and said as much.

    The Turks who matter most, secular, educated, elites, are tired of the moving goalposts of the E.U. They’ve watched a whole range of countries eased in through accession with shakier economies, and shorter democratic experiences. So yes there is a raw double standard, and it is wearing on the folks who used to be pro-Europe, I’m not sure anyone in Turkey is pro-US these days.

  11. It would be nice if Turkey got into the European Union.

    That said, if post-Communist Poland had a military-dominated government that intervened to prevent a Catholic-conservative party from taking power, at the same time that the military was fighting a dirty war against Ukrainians in Poland’s southeast and was supporting an unrecognized “Polish Republic of Eastern Lithuania,” there’s no chance in hell that its application could have survived.

  12. I have a rather simplistic question – Why, with all the problems the EU currently has with the current amount of nations within the Union, the internal lack of support for Turkey to join, and the rather blunt rejection of the constitution last year – why is the EU chasing after Turkey? And on the opposing side, why would Turkey want to join, if they cannot fully accept the reforms needed and the issue with Cyprus? It seems that there are two entities here – EU and Turkey, and both don’t want each other, yet, both are acting as they are in cahoots to move along the process of accession.

  13. If Greek Cyprus bears a considerable amount of blame for the impasse, and Athens supports Turkish membership, how much has Greece proper been doing to influence Cyprus in the right direction? Greece is hardly neutral on the issue of Cyprus – indeed, one could blame Greece’s threat to veto of the 2004 enlargement for the fact that a divided Cyprus was let into the EU in the first place. But given its rapprochement with Turkey over the last few years, it’s probably going to be more reasonable than the Greek Cypriots, and it’s also a country they’re likely to listen to, even if Greece has no direct power over Cyprus in the manner Turkey does over the North.

  14. I’m glad to see the Cyprus issue discussed in the comments here, in all the newspaper articles I’ve read they just state that there is an embargo on the Turkish – no one seems to question it or ask why.

    I looked up Cyprus on Wikipedia yesterday and as John Montague says the Turkish part came about through an invasion, but the current Greek Cypriot government came about through a military coup d’etat which had a goal to strengthen ties Greece. Turkey’s excuse for invading, to protect the turkish minority, seems entirely plausible.

    Personally I don’t undertand why the Greek Cypriots should hold the moral high ground in this issue, especially not now that they are blocking the negotitations. Is this not just a case of Europe/the World supporting the christian white side simply out of habit?

  15. “A faulty plan resulted and was, as per expectations, rejected,”

    I’m still unclear on just how the plan was “faulty”. Imperfect, okay. But it was a good-faith effort that gave the Greek Cypriots more than they could expect to get any other way.

    “but somehow, the Greek Cypriots are to blame for rejecting it.”

    Absolutely. The Greek Cypriots, by and large, don’t want a settlement. At this point, they’re hardly even pretending to negotiate any more.

    While you’re wagging your finger at “the dreadful Papadapolous”, don’t forget that he was elected by a clear majority, continues to be one of the most popular politicians on the Greek side, and will almost certainly coast to re-election next year. (His party gained seats in last year’s Parliamentary elections).

    So, Papadapolous is not some aberration. He represents the mainstream of Greek Cypriot thought.

    “The fact that the Turkish troops are still illegally in occupation is confirmation that they were wrong to do so.”

    [glyph of eyes rolling]

    So, they had a chance to gradually reduce Turkish troop strength in the north from 36,000 to 650. This wasn’t half a loaf. It was 98% of a loaf.

    But it still wasn’t enough.

    If ending the occupation was the real concern, the Greeks would have voted “yes” with a will. But it wasn’t. So they didn’t.

    Look, I hold no brief for the Turkish military. But let’s not forget that the illegal occupation started because the Greeks were visibly preparing to massacre or expel every Turk on Cyprus. So it was no small thing for the Turks to offer a 98% troop reduction. And if you’re concerned about the role of the Turkish generals, let’s note that the Annan Plan would have been a serious blow to them… if the Greek Cypriots hadn’t done them a favor and rejected it.

    Doug M.

  16. i am quite amazed to see no many American pushing European countries to accept this hugely populated and poor country and in the same time building walls at the frontiers with Mexico.

    can we ask the american to make Mexico and US sates before giving any advice on Turkey.

    fortunately this Turkey will never be in EU, it is a bad joke but for all who care about Christian-Muslim relation after the Anglo-Saxon disaster, we will accept Albania and Bosina as Eu member.

  17. As one of the Americans here, I think that a wall at the Mexican border is bad policy. But surely EU-Turkey questions can be discussed independent of what the US is doing?

    And for Robert, above, the answer to his simple question is that Turkey will not be entering tomorrow, but probably ten years down the road. Does the EU want to take actions that close off those options? Not in my estimation.

  18. @Doug, of course I accept that the Turkish intervention, against those who had overthrown the legitimate government of Cyprus was originally justified and legal. But I’m sure we both know that it’s what happened afterwards, the Turkish Army’s ethnic cleansing and its continuing enforcement by military occupation that are State-level crimes against international law, committed by a Council of Europe member.

    The figure you give for eventual Turkish troop levels proposed under Annan was a whole generation away.

    In the meantime, Turkey would have gained internationally recognized military control of part of the island. Annan would also have secured for Turkey a permanent right to intervene militarily in the affairs of another EU member state. As the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee pointed out , this is Ankara’s demand, not that of the Turkish Cypriots.

    Ankara doesn’t care about the Turkish Cypriots – it would be quite happy to see them all replaced by Anatolian settlers, so long as a Turkish ethnic presence on the island was maintained to justify its strategic claims.

    ( http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmselect/cmfaff/113/11308.htm#a30. – hope this actually works as a link to this informative investigative document, from one of the countries most supportive of Turkish accession )

    Another way that Annan was flawed was that the costs for Cyprus would have been enormous and that the huge financial burden of ensuring that restitution of property proceeded without causing excessive suffering to people in the north would have fallen mainly on taxpayers in the more prosperous south. As the Select Committee said:

    ” We noted above that many Greek Cypriots believe as a matter of principle that compensation for unrecovered property should be paid by Turkey, whose forces expelled them from those properties some 30 years ago.The very fact that Greek Cypriots are prepared to contemplate an element of compensation rather than full restitution is itself a huge compromise for them.

    We conclude that a substantive financial gesture by Turkey on the property compensation issue would be a magnanimous and positive move which would reflect well on Turkey and should be of some assistance in reducing Greek Cypriot opposition to a solution which stops short of full restitution. ”

    The Greek Cypriots certainly do want a settlement. The refugees want their property back, for a start. But they’re also waiting for the pressure to mount from within the original Turkish Cypriot community. In this sense, you’re right – the Government of Cyprus thinks time is on its side because sentiment in the north is shifting against Ankara. The Cypriot Government is waiting to see if Turkey will dare stand against the will of the people it is supposed to be defending, and what internal repression Turkey will be forced to impose on them. Even Talat is no longer really representative of the intensity of Turkish Cypriot desire for a real solution and disenchantment with Ankara.

    Papadopoulos’ policy is very inconvenient for NATO, the EU and the US. It may also turn out to be a tactical misjudgement if Turkey is allowed to ignore Turkish Cypriot sentiment, or to continue replacing emigrating Turkish Cypriots with Anatolians. – or if that sentiment changes as a result of Papadopoulos’ lamentable failure to engage properly with the Turkish Cypriots. But culpability for the original rejection of Annan is a very different matter – as prominent Turkish journalist Ali Birand eloquently acknowledges here, http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=58301 , Annan was more than just faulty: it had already been sabotaged before Papadopoulos had a chance to behave too badly.

    So who lost Turkey ? A section of the Turkish General Staff is keen to lose what it never really wanted – despite OYAK’s extensive links with France (OYAK-Renault, OYAK-AXA and very nearly, AYAK-Irdemir-Arceloror ) . We’ll see which faction has won once the elections are over.

  19. “But surely EU-Turkey questions can be discussed independent of what the US is doing?”

    no really since pretty much only US (and the poodle UK) want Turkey as EU member, and it is not their business.

    There are quite lot of similarities between including turkey in Europe and making Mexico a US state, it is the same logic only Turkey case is worst. I would appreciate if those american who are so open minded to Turkey would be as open minded Mexico and as well advocate Mexico as US state.

    “But frankly, I can’t see how Europe’s interests are served by a definitive rejection”

    are you kidding :
    -respecting the will of the citizens since european are opposed to this BS

    – not having to foot the bill of Trillions dollars to build Turkey infrastructure

    -not having frontiers with Iran/Iraq/Syria
    not be invoved in Kurdish problem as a “European” problem

    -not having the biggest country in Europe (and growing at rate of 1 millions per year) with vote power that come with it, be extremely poor, nationalist,militarist.
    -not having an huge immigration of a population that does not mix at all (less than 2% of “inter-cultural” marriage)

    all these benefits worth really to reject this “candidature” without of course having to talk about an Islamic trend and a secularity only enforced by the will of the army.

    even in 20-30 it will never happen, and France/Austria have referendum on this matter, more than 80% opposed and likely to increase.

  20. I can’t help to feel the main problem with Turkey joining the EU is mostly its 71 million population – growing much quicker than the rest of Europe as well. I can understand that people would feel illogical that the largest country in the EU for the population will be a country that you can not really consider as being as fully European at heart as let’s say the Netherlands or Germany, and moreover located at the very fringe of Europe, bordering the like of Syria and Iraq.

    I don’t think you can only put the blame on Islamophobia. I’m sure the european people won’t resent Bosnia or Albania joining when the time will come, and neither would they have any problem with Turkey if it was 10 times smaller.

  21. “But surely EU-Turkey questions can be discussed independent of what the US is doing?”

    Not entirely. The US is pushing for inclusion.

    “Turkey will not be entering tomorrow, but probably ten years down the road.”

    But the decision has to be made soon. In 10 years Turkey will be even more populous, still Muslim and still below old EU average economically speaking.

    “Does the EU want to take actions that close off those options?”

    The EU as a whole isn’t asked.

  22. If Turkey has a lot of emmigration than it won’t be the largest country. Having a border with Iran and Iraq is an advantage and not a disadvantage. Besides Turkey will be richer and definitly be less corrupt than Bulgaria, Rumania and Poland when it joins.

    And with respect to referendums. In 9 years time there will be new politicians who totally have forgotten old promises especially considering that German, Austrian etc. Turks will be richer than the average German, Austrian etc.

  23. @John, that TDN link brings me to an article about honor killings.

    “The figure you give for eventual Turkish troop levels proposed under Annan was a whole generation away.”

    2019 IMS. But troop levels would have dropped by 50% in the first three years.

    — Wait, that’s by now. They could have had half the Turkish troops off the island by now.

    Hm.

    “The Greek Cypriots certainly do want a settlement. The refugees want their property back, for a start.”

    Those are two different things.

    Look, part of the problem… no, maybe most of the problem is that Greek Cypriot elites hate like poison the idea of giving any legitimacy to a Turkish political entity. They’ll never recognize the TRNC, sure, okay… but neither do they want to recognize a northern federal entity within a united-Cyprus framework. Giving the Turks some say over how the whole island is run, however indirectly, is just a deeply loathsome idea to these guys.

    (I note in passing that this sentiment coexists strangely with a popular myth of the 1950s and ’60s as a golden age of peace and harmony, a simple time when Turks and Greeks lived together in pastoral brotherhood. The collapse of this paradise is blamed mostly on Ankara, but the British are also seen as a sort of serpent junior grade.)

    “The Greek Cypriots certainly do want a settlement”. Well, no. The evidence is that they /don’t/. Or at least not any settlement that could remotely be acceptable to the Turkish Cypriots, never mind Ankara.

    Note, BTW, that the older generation of Cypriots — people over 50, who actually lived through the war, many of whom were refugees — were only 64-36 against the Annan plan. This as opposed to Greek Cypriots generally, who were 76-24. Greek Cypriots under 25 — the folks who will be running the place soon — were 80-20.

    Restitution: Yes, I agree this was a flaw in the Annan Plan. And I also agree that it would be appropriate and useful for Ankara to commit a significant sum of money to this effort. But note that Papadapalous did not request this during the negotiations. Rather, he demanded that the Turkish side pay /all/ restitution. Like most of Papadapalous’ positions, this did not exactly smack of good-faith negotiation… especially since he never budged from it. (Nor yet has, AFAIK.)

    Turkish immigration: note that this problem grows more intractable with every passing year. You have people who emigrated as young adults in the 1970s who have now lived on Cyprus for 30 years or more. There’s a second, Cyprus-born generation that’s now growing up and having kids of their own. Telling these people that they must go “home”, or accept second-class citizenship with a limited franchise, is increasingly implausible. I agree that Ankara acted in bad faith by moving these people in, but they’re a fact on the ground now.

    Doug M.

  24. “The evidence is that they /don’t/. Or at least not any settlement that could remotely be acceptable to the Turkish Cypriots, never mind Ankara.”

    So what conclusion to draw from that? Recognition of Northern Cyprus is probably not possible.

    Secondly, how can the EU in the end yield on the question? Given the implication about recognition of a member, I can’t see how.

    Thirdly, if we keep negotiating and have to say no after years, don’t we increase the damage?

  25. Birand on Annan and Dektash (link works – you maybe need to scroll up)

    “Former President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) Rauf DenktaÅŸ and his friends resisted the Annan plan. They continually obstructed proceedings. They didn’t give Papadopoulos the opportunity to reject it, always remaining in the forefront of those who opposed the plan. When KKTC President Mehmet Ali Talat took over, there was nothing left to save. ”

    ***

    “the British are also seen as a sort of serpent junior grade”

    Makarios was no saint, but British policy systematically fostered ethnic divisiveness and actively invited Ankara to stick its oar.in. As usual, the FCO acted with extraordinary cynicism, wrapped up in hypocrisy. Anthony Nutting, a onetime Foreign Office minister, has admitted that “Britain’s interests in the colony were almost entirely determined by her need for military and air bases”. It’s no coincidence that Cyprus was once mooted as the one colony that Britain would never relinquish. The recent FASC on Cyprus reiterated the current importance of these bases. They’re by far the main spook listening-posts for ME traffic and generate a lot of the product that the UK can exchange with the US. – and that remains the FCO’s main concern, sadly.

    ***
    “neither do they want to recognize a northern federal entity”

    No, they don’t, because that would amount to rewarding military aggression (not to mention ethnic cleansing) – think Republika Serbska.

    Doug, I think I’ve made it clear that I think Papadopolous is an obstacle, and not only because the Turkish Cypriots don’t have any reason to trust the sod. But if the EU starts putting pressure on both sides, and Turkey butts out, some genuinely island-wide solution is not only possible but the best outcome for both sides that would have a chance of being accepted in a referendum. It would involve major decentralization, the financial and legislative empowerment of local mayors, and an assembly in the north, operating within EU guidelines involving temporary four freedoms derogations, with an EUFOR force providing security – not that dissimilar to some of the Annan proposals, in fact. The Greek Cypriots would probably buy that, whatever Papadopoulos said, IF the Turkish army would go and some progress was offered on property restitution and repatriation of the Anatolians (a lot of whom are actually Kurds).

    “they’re a fact on the ground now”

    Bit like the Israeli settlements then ? (I can’t remember which Israeli politician coined the phrase). Obviously, the Anatolian settlers shouldn’t be just thrown out, and those who’ve intermarried with Turkish Cypriots should be allowed to stay. But I agree with the FASC recommendation that “in any resumption of negotiations for a settlement of the Cyprus problem, the (British) Government seek to persuade the parties of the need for an increase in the number of Turkish settlers who will be required to return to Turkey as part of a solution, together with improved financial compensation for them.”

    ***

    “They could have had half the Turkish troops off the island by now”

    Leaving what – 20,000 of them ? Enough to ensure that it’s the military that calls the shots in the North, not the civilian population.

    Whatever the background, you’re still blaming the victims, Doug, and effectively recommending that Europe engage in a kind of appeasement. The problem here is Ankara not Nicosia. If Turkey wants to join Europe, it should fully recognize Cyprus. What possible argument can there be against that ?

  26. “No, they don’t, because that would amount to rewarding military aggression (not to mention ethnic cleansing)”

    I note in passing that the postwar transfer of populations, while painful, was done pretty peacefully.

    As to rewarding military aggression: well, what’s your proposed alternative again? “Decentralization” and “an assembly in the north”? Well, the former is a non-starter… the Greek Cypriots are perfectly content with the government they have, and they’re not about to “decentralize” to make the Turks happy. The latter sounds like exactly the regional Turkish entity that you just said was unacceptable.

    Look, the Greek Cypriots don’t oppose a federal solution because it would be rewarding ethnic cleansing. They oppose it because it would mean being governed, in some part, by Turks. That’s just a profoundly distasteful notion to them.

    If you want some fun, noodle around a bit for Greek commentary on Macedonia. Once you get past the name issue (with the inevitable we’re-the-biggest-investor-there and shouldn’t-they-be-grateful factoids), you’ll notice a strong current of revulsion for the Ohrid Agreement and the fact that every Macedonian government since has consisted of a Slav party with one of the two Albanian parties as coalition partner. You or I may see the Ohrid Agreement as a model for ethnic reconciliation and power-sharing; the average well-read Greek see it as perverse, vaguely disgusting, and imposed on the region by outside powers.

    Cyprus same same, except about twenty times more so. They do not want to share a government with the Turks.

    “you’re still blaming the victims, Doug,”

    This may go to the heart of our disagreement. I’m pretty firmly convinced that, had Turkey not intervened, the Greek Cypriots under Samson et al would have cheerfully slaughtered their Turkish neighbors en masse.

    This doesn’t excuse the occupation, or anything else. Nor does it make the victims any less victims. But it does make matters more… ambiguous.

    (And hey: while we’re harshing on the Turkish military, let’s not forget that they’re pretty directly responsible for restoring democracy in Greece. Just one of the many ironies of this irony-rich region.)

    Doug M.

  27. “They do not want to share a government with the Turks”

    The Greek Cypriots could easily be induced to accept that – PROVIDING concessions from Ankara are forthcoming on the other issues I mentioned. In any case, I think you’re being disingenuous here about why the Greek Cypriots rejected Annan V.

    They did NOT reject the fundamental idea that federal laws should only be approved by separate majorities of the two communities’ deputies.

    What the Greek Cypriots didn’t want was to share a dysfunctional non-government ; for instance they wanted a Cypriot Central Bank to be able to set the country’s financial policy; they didn’t want a separate central bank in the north or a machinery of government that could be held hostage to paralysis at any time.

    If some municipal bi-zonality is fundamental to the aspirations of the Turkish Cypriots, it might be secured by eliminating those features that made the implementation of property restitution, repatriation of some Anatolian settlers, etc so entirely vulnerable to Ankara’s whim – and most notable of these, the continued military control of the North by Ankara’s army rather than by a neutral force.

    Turkey did everything it could to engineer a solution that could easily lead to paralysis, crisis and then Taksim by another name. I find it entirely understandable that the Cypriot Government rejected bi-zonality in this particular context, but there is no reason to assume that the Greek Cypriots would reject it per se if they didn’t perceive it as a diplomatic ploy on Ankara’s part, aimed at engineering an internationally-recognized secession in the medium-term.

    As long as it’s Ankara’s agenda rather than that of the Turkish Cypriots that’s on the table, there will be no progress. Greece and Cyprus have genuinely renounced Enosis. Do you truly believe that those who hold a veto over Turkish policy have really renounced the aim of securing a claim to Aegean territorial waters through Taksim ?

    The EU cannot dodge the issue indefinitely. Turkey has to understand that this will not be allowed. That’s why Ankara is in such a cleft stick over recognition of Cyprus.

  28. “Cyprus same same, except about twenty times more so. They do not want to share a government with the Turks.”

    Which obviously is the answer to the question asked in this entry.

    Why would you blame them for that? Given the pressure of continous sanctions on the Turkish part their vote hardly shows a great desire for unity. No side wants to live with the other. In principle they are for justice, peace and unity. But so is everybody. They are not willing to implemt it in practice.
    If we are unwilling to act according to the facts on the ground we must blame ourselves, not those who make the facts clear.

  29. To put it really simply:

    If Ankara recognizes Cyprus, it kisses goodbye to any hope of ever using the Turkish Cypriot community in order to lay claim to territorial waters in the Aegean.

    This is not a Cypriot issue at all, it’s an internal Turkish problem.

  30. I don’t think this has to do with religion. And, Bosnia and Albania are not even ‘Muslim’ compared to Turkey or any ‘Muslim’ country. The truth is both Turkey and Cyprus should behave more responsibly.

  31. The rejection of Turkey would be a mistake.

    The EU is not a Christian club. European society is in large part agnostic and atheist, moreover there are millions of Muslims already living in the union. What a great opportunity to provide a bridge between the Middle East and Europe. An opportunity to demonstrate that democracy and Islam can co-exist.

    Turkey has a population in excess of 80 million and this will offer opportunities for enterprising European companies. Moreover Turkey would be able to contribute militarily to the EU.

    It’s a mistake to view Turkey as a reactionary culture as some are suggesting.
    There is a progressive urban culture in Turkey that chafes under the nationalistic hubris that is sometimes is on display – but how is that different from European societies that also include these types of extremes.

  32. “What a great opportunity to provide a bridge between the Middle East and Europe. An opportunity to demonstrate that democracy and Islam can co-exist.”

    Suppose we try that demonstration and fail? Then we are stuck with Turkey in the union. Trying this with eg. Bosnia is much safer.

  33. Bosnia is not a Muslim country. Does it even have a Muslim majority?

    Besides it isn’t that Islam is incompatible with democracy but that the West doesn’t want democratic Muslim countries. See for example Egypte in the 20’s, Lebanon in the 50’s, Algeria in the 90’s, Iraq in 2004 and Palestina now

  34. “And hey: while we’re harshing on the Turkish military, let’s not forget that they’re pretty directly responsible for restoring democracy in Greece. Just one of the many ironies of this irony-rich region.” – Doug M

    Doug M is exactly right on this point. Also issues related to the Turkish military reflect on larger geo-political realities in that region, and I think it would be to Europe’s long term advantage to say yes.

    Turkey is in many ways the centre piece in the jigsaw that could potentially keep all the other pieces together. It is a potential gateway to greater influence in the Balkans, central Asia and the Middle East. Good lord – this is hardly a novel thought – the country has been the southern NATO ally since 1952!!

    This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate that democracy and Islam can in fact co-exist. However the negativity, even racism, being voiced in the public debate toward Turkish people is bound to make them feel discouraged about the entire project.

    Europe should welcome Turkey with open arms and seek to support the many positives that Turkey offers. When you consider for example the sham Mubarak runs in Egypt – declaring majorities on the basis of 10% votes cast etc it makes Turkey seem almost principled.

    Internal concerns such as military chauvinism and political meddling, human rights problems and of course the Kurdish situation will be addressed most effectively by bringing Turkey closer to Europe. You can’t underestimate the power of trans-cultural mediation, especially in this age of high tech communications.

    Turkey is a vibrant nation in many ways. On the sports end of it – I have always been impressed by the sheer guts and heart their football players bring to the game. The performance of a country’s national squad says a lot about the character of the people.

    I really hope the EU says yes on this.

  35. “It is a potential gateway to greater influence in the Balkans, central Asia and the Middle East.”

    What does the EU seek this influence for and at what price?

    “Good lord – this is hardly a novel thought – the country has been the southern NATO ally since 1952!!”

    Unfortunately usefullness doesn’t imply compatibility.

    “When you consider for example the sham Mubarak runs in Egypt – declaring majorities on the basis of 10% votes cast etc it makes Turkey seem almost principled.”

    The question is not addressed by a comparison to Egypt. Do they fit in or not?

    “Internal concerns such as military chauvinism and political meddling, human rights problems and of course the Kurdish situation will be addressed most effectively by bringing Turkey closer to Europe.”

    So we take them in to solve problems we otherwise would not have to get closely involved with? Getting involved closely with the middle east has often turned out to be a bloody idea, literally.

    “Turkey is a vibrant nation in many ways.”

    Good for them. Still, it doesn’t make them european.

  36. “What does the EU seek this influence for and at what price?”

    for what, Oil.
    Which price, Almost any.

  37. Unfortunately Turkey is losing its respect day by day. Erdogan’s Goverment is going out of human rights and freedom.

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