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Media Watch 2003

12 September 2003
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author: Andreas Hadjipapas
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 12 September 2003.
'Bush must call mini-summit' on Cyprus

PRESIDENT Bush should host a “mini summit meeting” with Turkey, Greece and the two Cypriot sides later this month to try to end the Cyprus stalemate.

The idea is put forward by two former American diplomats who warn of a “looming disaster” if the US and the European Union do not take prompt action to resolve the Cyprus issue ahead of the island’s forthcoming accession in May.

Henri J Barkey and Philip H Gordon, writing in the International Herald Tribune this week, urged President Bush to hold such a summit on Cyprus when he meets with his EU counterparts at the UN General Assembly in New York later this month.

“The message would be that intensive final negotiations on the Annan plan must begin immediately, and that the parties have until December to reach a deal.

"This gives “ample time,” they argue, given the detailed work already done on the plan and the narrowness of many of the differences that divide the parties."

Close ties
“If Denktash and his hard-line allies finally say yes, the United States and EU will provide substantial economic aid to northern Cyprus, Turkish Cypriots will join the EU as part of a united island next year and Turkey’s own accession prospects will be given a major boost."

In such an event, when Bush attends the Nato summit in Istanbul in May 2004, he would participate in a “historic ceremony marking a unified Cyprus’s entry into the EU and Turkey’s close ties with the West - a perfect tonic after the recent strains in U S-Turkish relations."

But if Denktash still says no?
“Turkish Cypriots will remain isolated and poor, Turkish accession talks will be rejected, and Denktash can explain to his people and the entire region why such an historic opportunity was lost."

Barkey is a professor of international relations at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and Gordon is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

They worked on Turkey and Cyprus at the State Department and National Security Council, respectively, in the second Clinton administration.

Earlier this month, two other former diplomats, Morton Abramowitz, former ambassador to Turkey, and James Wilkinson, former deputy assistant Secretary of State and Cyprus coordinator, in an article in the Financial Times, urged European Commission president Romano Prodi to try to reach a Cyprus breakthrough by asking the two Cypriot leaders to meet together with representatives from Greece, Turkey and the U N, to “put Cyprus on a fast track to unification."

Barkey and Gordon point out in their IHT article that the need to resolve the Cyprus conflict “extends well beyond the fate of the less than one million people on the island.

“It has major implications for the future of nearly 70 million Turks, Europe’s relations with the Muslim world and the entire Mediterranean region. The clock is ticking on this issue."

The article refers to reforms undertaken by the Erdogan government in Turkey and says if this path continues it would be difficult for the EU not to begin accession negotiations.

“The dark cloud on this horizon is Cyprus. Technically, resolution of the island’s 30-year-old division is not a prerequisite for Turkey’s EU membership. Politically, however, it is almost impossible to imagine the EU agreeing to start the process so long as there is no deal."

The article says a rejection of Turkey’s EU case because of the Cyprus problem could lead to a nationalist backlash in Turkey and an end to the “historic reform process that has been sold to Turks largely as a ticket to joining the EU."

Referring to the Annan blueprint, the article describes it as a “creative compromise plan” that made “many concessions to Turkish Cypriot aspirations." But Denktash, backed by hard-liners in Ankara, refused the deal and the new Turkish government, “which supported a compromise, was not strong enough to oblige him to accept it.""