Croatia has been moved ahead of Turkey on the path to European Union membership. Diplomats said the decision was the first time the EU has charged Turkey a political price for its stance over Cyprus, reaffirmed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week, and so it was symbolically important.
At the mid-June foreign ministers’ meeting, warnings were reiterated. This boils down to opening detailed negotiations with both countries on competition policy but only with Zagreb on customs union issues. At the last meeting chaired by the Austrian EU presidency, the bloc’s Member States agreed to move forward faster in accession talks with Zagreb than with Ankara because of Turkey’s refusal to open its ports and airports to Cypriot traffic.
Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 in response to a Greek-inspired coup in Nicosia. Its troops remain. Ankara says the partition should be resolved through a U.N. peace plan and meanwhile rejects the Cypriot government as the island’s sole legitimate voice in the EU.