The day after the EU put Croatia ahead of Turkey in the membership talks queue, Ankara has been told its talks could be completely suspended unless it moves on Cyprus. The EU says Turkish ports and airports must open to Cypriot traffic under an agreement signed last year extending a customs union to include all the new EU member states.
Finland’s foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja: “We expect, and everybody in the European Union expects, that Turkey will ratify the additional protocol; otherwise it may have consequences; This is not a threat.” Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week reaffirmed that Turkey would only oblige if the EU made good on a pledge to ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots by allowing direct trade with the north of the divided island.
The prime minister told EuroNews in an interview: “What we are saying now is that northern Cyprus should first of all be rid of the isolation, and then we will do what remains to be done. So far, we have done many things regarding the protocol –
offered a lot – but the other party was not as forthcoming. It is not possible for us to remain positive under these circumstances.” (Although Turkey has signed the protocol, it has not implemented it where Cypriot vessels are concerned.)
Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 in response to a Greek-inspired coup in Nicosia. Its troops remain. Since then, the internationally ostracised northern enclave’s only trade has been through Turkey. Turkish Cypriots approved a U.N. peace plan two years ago; the Greek Cypriots did not, then they joined the EU.