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CIAO DATE: 12/00

The Enlargement of the European Union: The Case of Cyprus

Dr. Yannis A. Stivachtis *

International Studies Association
41st Annual Convention
Los Angeles, CA.
March 14-18, 2000


Although it has not crossed yet the finish line of the European Union (EU) membership, the accession of the Republic of Cyprus seems that has entered into the final straight. Given the complexity of the situation, many things may happen which could postpone the entry of the said state into the EU that is currently expected to take place sometime around the year 2003. Factors that could affect the entry date may be related to developments in the relations between Greece and Turkey as well as developments within the island of Cyprus, within the EU and the international community as a whole.

Despite the uncertainty that surrounds the future of Cyprus, at this particular moment in time the entry of the Republic of Cyprus into the EU appears to be a definite event. However, the process of arriving where we are now has not been a straightforward one. Membership of the EU has from the very beginning been an extremely complicated issue. To understand this complexity, one needs to go through the recent political history of Cyprus.

The present paper will advance the following arguments. First, the issue of the entry of the Republic of Cyprus into the EU is strongly related to the resolution of the Cyprus problem. This means that the membership process should be seen as a part of a much larger historical and political context relevant to the Cyprus question. The political parameters of this context have determined and will continue influencing the membership process which has, in turn, added and will continue adding new parameters to the political context.

Second, the EU’s policy towards Cyprus has not been consistent. In fact, since the time of the Cyprus’ application for accession to EU, the latter has taken two diametrically opposite stances on the issue. EU positions on Cyprus have been determined by factors related to the Greek-Turkish relations in the post-Cold War era.

Third, although the EU has intended to put its policy towards Cyprus in line with that of the UN, the logic of the European integration process runs into conflict with the ideas concerning the political settlement of the Cyprus question advanced by the UN. In this sense, the approaches of the two international institutions mentioned above are not complementary, as they were intended to be, but rather conflicting. Therefore, the decision of the EU to begin accession negotiations with Cyprus has further complicated the resolution of the Cyprus question.

Fourth, the resolution of the Cyprus problem has become extremely difficult due to the existence of two fundamentally different views of ‘ideal settlement’ pursued by the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot sides respectively and endorsed by Greece and Turkey. Both the EU and the UN have failed to answer with any degree of clarity whether a new political settlement in Cyprus should be in accordance or not with the settlement provided by the Treaties of Zurich (1959) and London (1960). While the interested parties have tried to use the institutional frameworks of the EU and the UN to pursue their own ‘ideal settlement’, the EU and the UN have left the disputing parties themselves to determine the nature and structure of any future political settlement in Cyprus. Among other things, this has led the interested parties to pursue opportunistic policies which have further complicated the resolution of the Cyprus problem.

Fifth, the issue of the entry of the Republic of Cyprus into the EU is strongly related to the relations between Greece and Turkey as well as the acceptance of Turkey as a prospective member of the EU. Thus, the issue of Cyprus’ accession to EU has been and will continue being affected by policies pursued by Athens and Ankara. Moreover, the same issue has been and will continue being a subject of inter- and intra-communal politics in Cyprus.

The purpose of this paper is to provide a narrative account of the political developments related to Cyprus question. The purpose of such an endeavour is to place the issue of membership into the larger historical and political context relevant to the Cyprus problem. This narrative will be accompanied by a critical examination of the official argumentation of all parties concerned as well as a discussion of the implications of the policies pursued by those parties. To obtain a clear idea of how we have come to where we are now, one needs to go back to the history of the island.


Cyprus: From Ottoman Rule to Independence

The origins of the current problems related to the candidature of the Republic of Cyprus for accession to the EU can be traced back in the decades of the 1950s and 1960s. Events during these decades, however, were nothing more than the expression of the realities existing on the island for quite long time.

Historically speaking, the island of Cyprus has been the homeland of mainly two ethnically distinct people: the Turkish-Cypriots and the Greek-Cypriots. People from other ethnicities have also lived on the island but their numbers have been sufficiently low so to allow one to speak of the existence of two basic ethnicities. Nevertheless, during history, the majority of the population living in Cyprus was of Greek origins. The population issue is of great importance because it touches the essence of the Cyprus question and affects not only the resolution of the Cyprus problem, but also the entry of the Republic of Cyprus into the EU. Therefore, this issue will be discussed in more detail later on.

Although it is the Greeks who have been historically related to the island of Cyprus, when the modern state was established at Westphalia (1648), the island fell legally into the Turkish sovereignty and remained under the Turkish rule for more than 300 years. In 1878, according to an agreement signed at the Berlin Congress, Britain leased the island of Cyprus from the Ottoman Empire. This lease was the result of a process related to the declining power of the Ottoman Empire. Specifically, the Ottoman Sultan, facing the growing weakening of his empire, decided to cede the island to Britain as an indication of appreciation for the political support that the latter had provided in assisting him to maintain the territorial integrity of his state. On the other hand, because of its geo-strategic location, the island was of significant importance for Britain and thus pressure was put on the Subleme Porte to transfer Cyprus into British hands.

In 1914, Britain annexed Cyprus but it obtained complete sovereignty as a result of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty by which Turkey unconditionally renounced any claim on Cyprus. British colonial administration continued until 1960 when the Republic of Cyprus was founded by the Treaty of London signed by Great Britain, Greece and Turkey, which acted as the guarantor powers, as well as the leaders of both the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities in their separate capacities.

The passage from the British authority to independence was the result of a struggle against the British rule initiated and successful completed by EOKA; an organisation composed entirely by Greek-Cypriots. Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot peoples do not all agree whether EOKA represented a liberation movement or a terrorist organisation. But they all agree, as the Greeks and the Greek-Cypriots also do, that the main purpose of EOKA was the unification of Cyprus (enosis) with Greece.

In an effort to deal with EOKA’s political targets, the British Government sought to apply the realist principle of ‘divide and rule’ thereby planting and exploiting the differences between the Greek-Cypriots and the Turkish-Cypriots. In doing so, the British managed to make the Turkish-Cypriots targets of the EOKA’s activities. Thus, the events of the 1950s offered the fertile ground for the development of hostility and mistrust between the two communities living on the island. Nevertheless, Britain did not succeed in keeping Cyprus under its sovereignty and conceded to the independence of the island.


From Independence to Intra-state Conflict

The Zurich and London Treaties reflected the British idea of collective self-determination. In fact, Britain made clear in 1956 and 1958 that two co-owner peoples share the island and that “exercise of self-determination should be affected in such a manner that the Turkish-Cypriot community, no less than the Greek-Cypriot community, shall, in the special circumstances of Cyprus, be given the freedom to decide for themselves their future status”. 1

According to the said treaties, neither of the two main communities on the island was to be allowed to proceed to the unification of the whole or part of the island with their respective motherlands: Greece and Turkey. The treaties created a political partnership between the two national communities and were designed to enable them to share power. To this end, they defined the necessary checks and balances.

The treaties were embodied in a unique Constitution which was based on equal political partnership between the two communities and which also prohibited annexation or union of Cyprus to any other country. The political equality of the two communities was expressed in the existence of a veto power that could be exercised by both the President and Vice-President of the Republic of Cyprus. Thus, the newly independent state could only survive and function if, and only if the two communities could agree on any issue.

The only way in which the said treaties took account of the population issue was in determining that the President of the Republic of Cyprus should always be a Greek-Cypriot and the Vice-President a Turkish-Cypriot. But because of the existence of the veto power such a condition hardly mattered. An additional evidence of the special political position given to the Turkish-Cypriot community by the Zurich and London Treaties is the fact that other minorities living on the island were not given a similar treatment.

The Zurich and London Treaties did not purport to create a Cypriot nation as many have advocated. Archbishop Makarios himself recognised that “The Agreements have created a state, but not a nation”. 2 In fact, the treaties in question made a clear distinction between the idea of a ‘state’ and the idea of a ‘nation’. They sought to create a state composed of two main nations. The idea was of having a state whose citizens could be Cypriots no matter of their ethnic origin. To be a Cypriot represented a relationship between the individual and the geographical place he/she was living in and not an idea related to the existence of a Cypriot nation. Whether such a settlement was a good idea is another issue, albeit important. Moreover, whether a Cypriot nation could be created in the long run is also another question but was not at all the issue in 1959-60.

As it was mentioned above, the issue of whether the Treaties of Zurich and London represented a realistic and viable settlement of the Cyprus question has been of great significance. Many allegations were made against Archbishop Makarios, the then leader of the Greek-Cypriot community, for having signed those treaties which, according to those advocating the unification of Cyprus with Greece, represented the betrayal of their cause. However, Archbishop Makarios was under extreme pressure both by the then Greek and British governments and had therefore little room to manouevre.

It has been argued that his logic for signing the Zurich and London Treaties was that independence could be a step towards unification. Although such an argument comes from different sides, it has been the main advocacy of the Turkish-Cypriots. The reason for that is related to the decision of the Archbishop Makarios to revise the Cypriot Constitution in 1963 and his actions in the aftermath of the constitutional changes. However, what happened in 1963 had been the result of what had happened between 1960 and that year.

Specifically, although the British efforts did not manage to satisfy the immediate British goals, they did manage to jeopardise the future life of the newly independent state. Mistrust was endemic and the slightest problem was able to undermine the foundations of the new state. Politics within the Republic of Cyprus and patronage from the motherlands made the political system devised by the Treaties of Zurich and London unworkable.

The Turkish-Cypriot side has argued that immediately after the creation of the independent state of Cyprus it became clear that the Greek-Cypriots did not intent to abide by the Constitution of the Republic and sought to find justification for altering it into their favour. As proof for its argumentation, the Turkish-Cypriot side has pointed to the ignoring of the Greek-Cypriots of the constitutional requirement for separate municipalities and the decision of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Cyprus when it ruled against them in April 1963. In fact, Archbishop Makarios himself recognised that “The Union of Cyprus with Greece is an aspiration always cherished within the hearts of all Greek-Cypriots. It is impossible to put an end to this aspiration by establishing a Republic”. 3

On the other hand, the Greek-Cypriot side has accused the Turkish-Cypriots for using their political offices and functions for purposefully jeopardising the orderly operation of the new state to pave the way for Turkey to actively involve in the affairs of Cyprus. It was in this context that the decision of Archbishop Makarios, President of the Republic of Cyprus, to revise the constitution formally provoked a long-lasting crisis between the two communities.

The political justification given by Archbishop Makarios for introducing constitutional amendments was that under the then given circumstances the government was unable to run the affairs of the country. His decision, however, was perceived by the Turkish-Cypriot side as a step towards achieving unification of Cyprus with Greece. This Turkish-Cypriot claim was later endorsed by the British House of Commons Selected Committee on Foreign Affairs that on 2 July 1987 reported that

“Although the Cyprus Government now claims to have been merely seeking to operate the 1960 Constitution modified to the extent dictated by the necessities of the situation, this claim ignores the fact that both before and after the events of December 1963, the Makarios Government continued to advocate the cause of enosis and actively pursued the amendment of the Constitution and the related treaties to facilitate this ultimate objective”. 4

Turkey, which for strategic reasons did not wish the unification of Cyprus with Greece and saw Makarios’ proposals as a step towards that end, immediately rejected them and the Turkish-Cypriot leadership followed suit.

Makarios’ actions produced a twofold problem. First, he proceeded on a unilateral basis without consulting all the interesting parties; and second, he ignored the opposition of the Turkish-Cypriot Vice-President who had the constitutional power and right to resist proposals coming from the President of the Republic. As the President of a sovereign and independent state, Archbishop Makarios thought that he had the right, under the given circumstances, to proceed unilaterally to a constitutional revision. Moreover, many have argued that if the President had to ask the permission of the guarantor states for any of his actions then, the Republic of Cyprus could not function as a sovereign and independent state.

This argument, however, is problematic for two reasons. First, not all decisions are of equal significance; and second, the revision of the constitution was an issue of highest importance because it was to alter the basic principles on which the Treaties of Zurich and London rested. To put it in another way: can a political body, whose actions constitutionally require the consent of another political body, not only ignore that consent but also dismiss that body through constitutional amendments unilaterally defined and undertaken? Even if the Turkish-Cypriot Vice-President was operating under the orders of Ankara, the unilateral revision of the constitution did not appear to be a politically and legally wise action to be undertaken by Archbishop Makarios whose one of the main functions was to protect and preserve the very constitution. Even if it was the Turkish-Cypriot Vice-President who with his actions undermined that constitution, this did not necessarily give the right to the President to do the same.

Given the then existing circumstances within and outside the Republic of Cyprus, the most prudent policy for Archbishop Makarios should had been to consult the guarantor states first. At least, in this way he could not be accused of proceeding unilaterally and without taking into account the interests of all parties concerned. The issue was whether political-legal correctness, even if the latter had been established in the mind of Archbishop Makarios, should had taken priority over political realities and necessities. Since the definition of what it was politically and legally correct for Archbishop Makarios to do was in itself problematic, political realities should had taken priority in his calculations.

On the other hand, if Makarios’ design was to achieve unification with Greece sooner or later then, obviously his actions are not subject to the above problematique. In fact, there are clear indications that unification was indeed his end. He himself had stated that “Cyprus is Greek. Cyprus was Greek since the dawn of history and will remain Greek. Greek and undivided we have taken it over. Greek and undivided we shall preserve it. Greek and undivided we shall deliver it to Greece”. 5 Moreover, referring to the events of 1963, Ernst Forthshoff, the President of the Supreme Constitutional Court of the Republic of Cyprus declared that “Makarios bears on his shoulders the sole responsibility of the tragic events...His claim is to deprive the Turkish community of their rights”. 6

If unification of Cyprus with Greece was the case behind the constitutional amendments of 1963, one can easily understand the reaction of Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot side which had signed treaties and supported a constitution which were to prevent unification or partition designs. If one understands and accepts the Greek-Cypriot efforts for unification with Greece, one should, at least, understand the partition schemes of Turkey supported by the Turkish-Cypriot leadership.

The constitutional amendments of 1963 introduced the majority-minority divide between the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities respectively. It is on this basis that all Greek-Cypriot governments since 1974 have sought to proceed in addressing and solving the Cyprus question. As a result of these arrangements, the Turkish-Cypriots lost almost all of their political power and leverage. It was, therefore, expectable that the constitutional changes could invite further conflict between the two communities.

The inter-communal conflict, which formally began in 1963, continued until 1974 with acts of brutality committed by both sides. The question of who started first is difficult to be answered with precision since one has to identify not only when exactly the first act commenced but also which exactly act had a counter-act as an effect. The truth, however, is that according to the UN reports, 7 the Turkish-Cypriots experienced difficult living conditions and their security required the intervention of the UN. Particularly, facing growing domestic upheaval and under the threat of a Turkish military intervention, the Cypriot Government brought the matter before the UN. The UN Security Council Resolution 186/1964 provided for the stationing of a UN Peace-keeping Force (UNFICYP) on the island and initiated UN mediation efforts to promote a peaceful solution and an agreed settlement, in accordance with the UN Charter. The size of this force, nevertheless, was insufficient to enforce order throughout the island.

The situation became even more grave when the Greek Government decided to send military troops in Cyprus to prevent a possible Turkish military intervention. Such an action increased the mistrust of the Turkish-Cypriots and invited the reaction of Ankara. It was in this climate that the inter-communal talks began for a negotiated agreement on a new constitutional system. Political changes in Greece followed by anti-Turkish rhetoric, in conjunction with the growing activities of the pro-enosis forces in Cyprus against the Turkish-Cypriots invited the Turkish reaction and led to the failure of the inter-communal talks, although some progress had already been made. Whether Turkey wished or not to partition the island, the actions of the pro-enosis forces provided a good pretext for any Turkish policy.

In sum, the period between 1964-74 was characterised by the growing fear of a Turkish military intervention that, although initially prevented due to political intervention of the United States, 8 eventually took place on 20 July 1974.

The term ‘military intervention’ is used here in an academic sense and implies the involvement of a third party in a dispute between two other parties. The type of means used during this involvement defines the latter’s nature. Since Turkey used military means in this involvement, its actions constituted a military intervention. Whether this military intervention was a ‘peace operation’ or a ‘military invasion’ is another matter.

Particularly, the Turkish-Cypriot side has argued that the Turkish military operation was lawful and sought to protect the Turkish-Cypriots from the acts of the Greek-Cypriot who on 15 July 1974 overthrew Archbishop Makarios and established themselves on power. This argument has been endorsed by the Consultive Assembly of the Council of Europe which on 29 July 1974 passed the Resolution 573 by which was

“Condemning the coup d’ etat carried out in Cyprus by officers owing allegiance to the Greek military dictatorship...Regretting the failure of the attempt to reach a diplomatic settlement which led to the Turkish Government to exercise its right of intervention in accordance with the article 4 of the Treaty of Guarantee”. 9

It is true that the coup d’ état of July 1974 was sponsored by the Greek Government and its aim was of achieving unification of Cyprus with Greece. The Turkish-Cypriot argument that their security was at stake is sound and was at that time endorsed by Archbishop Makarios himself who from the headquarters of the UN declared that due to the Greek involvement in Cyprus, the Greek-Cypriots and the Turkish-Cypriots were in grave danger. Thus, one may easily conclude that without the Turkish military operation the lives of the Turkish-Cypriots could had been under a serious threat.

However, one should be careful in making general judgements. First of all, it was only a small part of the Greek-Cypriot population which during those difficult years shared beliefs such as the ‘extermination’ of the Turkish-Cypriot population. The greatest majority of the Greek-Cypriots were, and still are against such ideas. Second, the coup d’ état of July 1974 did not aim only against the Turkish-Cypriots but also against any democratic Greek-Cypriot element; a fact that is also accepted by the Turkish-Cypriot side. 10 And third, whereas not many could argue against the fact that the Turkish intervention was in principle in accordance to the provisions of the Zurich and London Treaties, the question is whether the subsequent Turkish actions were also in accordance to the said treaties. But this is an issue that will be discussed later.

The important point is that intervention cuts both ways. This is because in political terms, intervention and non-intervention can be seen as being the same thing. In other words, when a third party intervenes, it determines the outcome of the dispute between two parties usually in favour of the weaker of these two parties. If not, it determines the outcome of the dispute in favour of the stronger party. So, Turkey had two choices, either to intervene in favour of the Turkish-Cypriots or not to intervene and place the latter into a delicate situation.


Cyprus-EEC Relations: 1972-1990

Before the events of 1974, contractual relations between the Republic of Cyprus and the then European Economic Community (EEC) were established. Specifically, in 1973 an Association Agreement was signed as a result of bilateral negotiations that concluded the previous year. 11

Interest of the EEC for Cyprus should be understood in the context of the EEC’s ‘Global Mediterranean Policy’. The aim of the latter was to establish close economic relations between the EEC and the countries of the Mediterranean region and the Middle East. 12 Although relations were to be based on economic, financial and commercial co-operation, the neo-functionalist approach of the EEC made clear that such issues were strongly related to the political interests of the EEC in the above indicated regions. In other words, economic co-operation was seen as a first step towards political co-operation. This is not to say that economic co-operation itself was not of significant importance for the EEC. What it rather means is that the crises in the Middle East had pointed out that the EEC could be seriously affected by upcoming crises both in political and economic terms. Co-operation with the countries of the region was, therefore, seen by the EEC as a means to predict and control events and avoid the impact of crises on its operation.

The Mediterranean policy of the EEC targeted not only at establishing loose and short-term bilateral economic co-operation with the countries of the Mediterranean region and the Middle East. In addition, it sought, whenever possible, to sign an Association Agreement which was to pave the way for a more comprehensive and longer-term co-operation between the interested parties.

The Association Agreement of 1973 provided for the establishment of a customs union in two stages. This agreement contained arrangements on trade and financial and technical co-operation which were to be applied for the benefit of the entire population of Cyprus. The first stage provided for the phased reduction of tariffs on industrial goods and agricultural products. This stage was due to expire in June 1977 but due to the subsequent events was extended until the end of 1987, by which deadline all the aims were achieved.

Neither Turkey nor the Turkish-Cypriots voiced any objection to the Association Agreement. Three reasons can explain this stance. First, the agreement was not considered as touching the core of, or affecting negatively the Cyprus problem; second, it was to benefit all Cypriots alike; and third, it was to determine trade and financial relations between Cyprus and an institution (EEC) with which both Greece and Turkey had also signed Association Agreements.

During the events of 1974 and up to 1990, the EEC, and the EU as its successor, played only a side-role in the Cyprus question. In fact, the member states brought their policies in line with the mediating efforts undertaken by the UN and provided political support for them.

Specifically, from 1974 and until the moment that the European Political Co-operation (EPC) came into being, the policy of the EEC was nothing more than the reflection of the individual policies of its member states. The latter acted in two ways. First, they sought to provide support for the relevant UN resolutions concerning Cyprus and called for negotiations between all interested parties in an effort to find a lasting solution; and second, they sought to continue working with the Cyprus Government towards the implementation of the 1973 Association Agreement.

After the establishment of the EPC, the position of the EEC members did not very much altered although three important developments occurred: the entry of Greece into the EEC in 1981, the creation of the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ in 1983 and the application of Turkey for accession to the EU.

Greece’s membership of the EEC made the partners to take account of the relations between Athens and Ankara in their foreign policy calculations. Because Turkey was seen as an important country for the European security and with which the EEC had an Association Agreement, the members states sought to avoid taking positions that could heart their relations either with Greece or with Turkey. Moreover, the EEC partners did not want Greece to bring its bilateral problems with Turkey within the EEC.

Nevertheless, the individual member states of the EEC and the EEC as a whole did not recognise in 1983 the creation of the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’. This policy was justified not on the ground that Greece was a partner state, but because it was in line with the relevant UN resolutions with which the creation of the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ was in direct contrast. Particularly, the EEC brought its policy in line with the UN Security Council Resolutions 541/1983 and 550/1984 which condemned the unilateral declaration made by the Turkish-Cypriot leadership as well as all subsequent secessionist acts, declared them illegal and invalid and called for their immediate withdrawal. These resolutions called upon all states not to recognise the purported state and not to facilitate or in any way assist the secessionist entity. The EEC sought to respond positively to the UN call. At the same time, the partners sought to pursue policies towards Cyprus that could equally benefit the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities.

The decision of the EEC not to recognise the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ had important consequences for the subsequent developments in the Cyprus question. First of all, the action of the EEC denied legitimisation to a separate Turkish-Cypriot international representation. By the same token, it recognised the Greek-Cypriot Government as the only legitimate representative of all people living in Cyprus. In this way, the EEC paved the way for a resolution to the Cyprus question which could be closer to the Greek-Cypriot interests thereby encouraging them to pursue policies that could lead to a state reconstruction in Cyprus according to the post-1963 archetype. Such a decision was obviously hurting the interests of the Turkish-Cypriots and was minimising the chances of returning to a political settlement similar to that provided by the Zurich and London Treaties.

In January 1988 the Protocol governing the transition to the second stage of the 1973 Association Agreement, the completion of a customs union, entered into force. This stage was divided into two phases. 13 The first phase, from 1988 to 1997 provided first, for the reduction by Cyprus of customs duties and quantitative restrictions on industrial products and on 43 agricultural products covered by the Association Agreement; second, the adoption by Cyprus of the Union’s Common Customs Tariff; and third, the harmonisation of accompanying policies of competition, state aids and the approximation of laws. The second phase, ending in 2002 or 2003 was to lead to the free and unrestricted movement of industrial and agricultural products and the adoption of accompanying policies required for completion of the customs union. In view, however, of the accession negotiations in March 1998 the negotiations for the second phase of the customs union have been for practical reasons postponed.

Meanwhile, in an effort to strengthen Cyprus’s infrastructure the European Union provided assistance through the signing of four financial protocols of a technical and economic nature covering the period 1979-1998. 14 Under the first two financial protocols all grants and European Investment Bank loans were used to finance infrastructure projects benefitting where possible the entire population of Cyprus. The Third Financial Protocol was used to promote the transition of Cyprus’ economy towards integration with the Union. The aim of the Fourth Financial Protocol is fourfold. 15 First, to promote the development of the Cypriot economy and the objectives of the EEC-Cyprus Association Agreement. Second, to facilitate Cyprus’ economic transition with a view to its accession to the EU. Third, to support participation of Cyprus in certain EU programmes. And fourth, to support efforts to promote a general settlement of the Cyprus problem.

During those years, relations between the EEC and the Republic of Cyprus were fallen within the framework of the ‘Renew Mediterranean Policy’ of the EEC. 16 This policy was an updated version of the ‘Global Mediterranean Policy’ and represented a more comprehensive effort of the EEC to establish closer relations with the countries of the Mediterranean region and the Middle East.

The EEC/EU decision to carry on with the 1973 Association Agreement did not invite the reaction of Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot side until the moment that the EU accepted the Republic of Cyprus’ application for EU membership. Until that moment, Cyprus-EEC/EU relations were not seen necessarily as positive for the Turkish-Cypriot cause but neither were seen as extremely negative since the Turkish-Cypriot side was also benefited by the EEC/EU policies towards Cyprus. From the moment that Cyprus was accepted as a candidate state for accession, the EU began to be seen by Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot leadership as involving actively in the Cyprus question in favour of the Greek-Cypriot side and acting against the resolution proposals put forward by the UN. Thus, Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot leadership continued to search for a solution to the Cyprus problem within the framework of the UN as they had already done since 1975.

Meanwhile, another development had taken place which was to further complicate the relations between Greece and Turkey as well as the resolution of the Cyprus problem: the application of Turkey for accession to EU. Since Greece was already member of the EU, its stance on the matter could evidently affect the relations of the EU as a whole with Turkey.

Particularly, on 14 April 1987, Turkey submitted its application for EEC membership. After almost two years of deliberation, the European Commission responded negatively to the Turkish proposal. 17 The Commission maintained that demographical, political, economic, structural and social problems existing in Turkey in conjunction with the internal reshaping process of the EEC made for the time being the acceptance of the application impossible. However, the Commission worked out three conditions for Turkish re-application. First, political pluralism had to be re-established in Turkey and the country’s human rights record had to be improved considerably; second, Turkey should solve its bilateral disputes with Greece; and third, the Cyprus question had to be resolved. The Commission decided to assess Turkey’s status from time to time. The reluctance of the EEC to accept Turkey was maintained during the following years. 18

Overall, the Commission was extremely cautious in dealing with the Turkish application and did not want to bind itself more than was necessary. On the one hand, the integration of Turkey was seen as a very difficult task. On the other hand, the EEC did not want the Greek-Turkish problems and the Cyprus question to become EEC problems. Yet, Greece, seeing Turkey’s interest to join the EEC, thought that the Turkish application could offer a vehicle for exercising pressure on Ankara to solve the Greek-Turkish disputes, including the Cyprus problem. But Ankara, which saw Greece behind its rejection by the EEC, not only was not ready to make any concessions, but it even hardened its position towards Greece. Under those conditions the resolution of the Cyprus problem was impossible. When the Republic of Cyprus applied for membership in 1990, relations between the EU, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus became a difficult issue to be handled.

During the period 1983-90, the European Parliament also adopted several resolutions concerning aspects of the Cyprus problem, such as the 17 November 1983 Resolution which denounced the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’; the 15 December 1988 Resolution which condemned the destruction of the cultural heritage in the occupied territories and the 15 March 1990 Resolution which urged the Turkish Government to demonstrate the necessary volition and a spirit of co-operation with the view to resuming the inter-communal negotiations. 19


From Intra-state Conflict to Territorial Division

The Turkish military intervention of July and August 1974 produced a new type of order in Cyprus. While the Treaties of Zurich and London and the subsequent Cypriot Constitution provided for a bi-communal state with the two communities spread throughout the island, the Turkish intervention has produced a different arrangement. A bi-zonal entity has been created where the Greek-Cypriot population is concentrated in the southern part of the island and the Turkish-Cypriots in the northern. This division has been militarily supported by the presence of the Turkish troops and demographically by the immigration of Turkish population coming from Anatolia.

In the aftermath of the Turkish military intervention four issues became the subject of a heated debate between the two communities and their respective protectors. First, whether the Turkish intervention was lawful; second, whether the Turkish troops should be withdrawn; third, whether the status quo ante should be restored; and fourth, whether any future political settlement in Cyprus should be based on the principles of the 1960 Treaty of London. 20

Greece and the Greek-Cypriot side have considered the Turkish military intervention in Cyprus as unlawful and as an attack on a sovereign state. Five reasons have been advanced for explaining this position. 21 First, the right of intervention provided by the treaties of London (1960) and Zurich (1959) did not necessarily involve the use of force. Second, the UN Charter excludes the use of force. Third, it is maintained that Rauf Denktash himself characterised the events of July 1974 as an ‘internal affair’ of the Greek-Cypriots that it did not affect the Turkish-Cypriot community. Fourth, the Treaty of Guarantee provided for the consultations between the guarantor powers, but Turkey never entered into such consultations. Fifth, after the constitutional order was restored, the Turkish troops not only were not withdrawn but also proceeded to the second stage of their invasion, while negotiations were taken place in Geneva.

However, the above argumentation is very weak. First of all, going through the said agreements one can easily observe that neither the Zurich nor the London Agreement excluded the use of force. Second, although clearly stated in the UN Charter, the use of force is not entirely excluded in the international practice when this use conforms to the requirements of international law; and the Zurich-London Treaties constitute integral parts of the international legal order. Third, Archbishop Makarios himself recognised the fact that the coup d’ état of July 1974 threatened both the Greek-Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and, using the pontium of the UN, asked the Guarantor powers to intervene to restore order. Fourth, following its obligations as stated in the Treaties of Zurich and London, Turkey entered into consultations with Britain. Specifically, a meeting took place in London between the Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and the British Prime Callahan during which the latter made clear that Britain was not prepared to involve in the Cyprus problem. Thus Turkey, as the only guarantor power remaining, obtained the right to intervene unilaterally in order to restore order in Cyprus and protect the Turkish-Cypriots. Finally, after the Turkish military intervention of July 1974, atrocities against the Turkish-Cypriots living in the rest of the island continued and perhaps intensified as a result of the Turkish intervention. This provided a lawful pretext for the continuation of Turkish military operations in August 1974 since until that moment no agreement had been reached between the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot sides about the future constitutional status of Cyprus.

On the other hand, two arguments appear to have better merits. First, it has been argued that the Turkish military intervention became unlawful from the moment that Ankara decided to keep its troops in Cyprus. This is because the Treaties of Zurich and London specified that collective or unilateral intervention should aim at the re-establishment of constitutional order. In fact, the Turkish intervention did not lead to the restoration of constitutional order, but to a new type of order. The continuing presence of the Turkish troops on the territory of the Republic of Cyprus and the 1983 unilateral declaration of the independence of the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ both stand against the provisions of the said treaties. Second, from the moment that the Security Council Resolution 353/1974 and the General Assembly Resolution 3212/1974 demanded the withdrawal of the Turkish Army from Cyprus the presence of the Turkish troops began to lack legitimacy.

Nevertheless, even those arguments need to be critically seen in the light of the Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot counter-argumentation and the existing realities. Specifically, the relevant UN resolutions addressed the issue of the Turkish military presence but did not address other important questions. First, who could meanwhile protect the Turkish-Cypriots after the withdrawal of the Turkish forces? How much international involvement the provision of such a protection would require and at what cost? Who should bear this cost? Of what size the protection force should be and for how long should be there?

Second, the UN resolutions did not provide a clear answer to the question of whether the post-1974 Republic of Cyprus should be re-constructed according to the pre- or post-1963 Constitution. In other words, should the Republic of Cyprus be re-established according to the Zurich-London Agreements or not? If not, what could that mean for the right of the Turkish-Cypriot to self-determination? Those questions highlight the limitations of the UN system in dealing with the Cyprus question and seems to justify the Turkish position that in the absence of any guarantees the presence of the Turkish forces in Cyprus was, and still is the only means to assure the security of the Turkish-Cypriots.

Moreover, to justify the presence of the Turkish troops in the northern part of the island, Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot side have advanced two arguments. First, they have maintained that the Treaties of Zurich and London are not applicable as long as the Greek-Cypriot side does not accept the principles embodied in those treaties. And second, they have argued that the main purpose of the Greek-Cypriot Army is to unify the island and put the Turkish-Cypriots under the Greek-Cypriot authority; a design that runs counter to the logic and wording of the Zurich-London Agreements.

Although the first argument makes sense the second one is very weak for two reasons. First, it has been the presence of the Turkish troops and the high degree of their combat readiness and capability that has invited the need for the reorganisation of the Greek-Cypriot Army. Second, if a war begins between Greece and Turkey then nobody can provide enough assurances that it could not be fought at all fronts including Cyprus. 22 As long as the island is divided and hostility between the two sides is growing, the possibility of a forceful unification of the island by either side remains open.

Moreover, an argument can be made that the Turkish policy of population transfer from Anatolia to northern Cyprus shows that the main purpose of Turkey is to maintain the political and territorial division of Cyprus, thereby settling the Cyprus problem by partition. 23 In this context, the presence of the Turkish troops can be seen as a means to that end and thus, this presence can be easily viewed as unlawful.

The issue of the territorial and political division of the island of Cyprus finds the Greek-Cypriot side better placed. The issue was initially addressed by the General Assembly Resolution 3112/1974 endorsed by the Security Council Resolution 365/1975. Both resolutions demanded the safe return of the refugees to their homes thereby opposing to the Turkish policy of territorial division of the island into two zones inhabited exclusively by Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots respectively. The question is how these resolutions were to be put into practice in the light of the then realities and how they relate and fit to the recent UN resolutions aiming at creating a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.

The issue of whether the Treaties of Zurich and London represented a realistic and viable settlement of the Cyprus question still of great importance. Particularly, the Greek-Cypriot side, in alliance with Greece, maintains that any political settlement today should take account of the population element. This argument implies that, for the Greek-Cypriot side, any political settlement of the Cyprus problem should be based on the recognition of a majority (Greek-Cypriots) and a minority (Turkish Cypriots).

Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot side, on the other hand, correctly maintain that what the Greek-Cypriots demand stands into a sharp contrast with the logic and requirements of the Zurich and London Treaties which established the independent Republic of Cyprus and provided the constitutional basis for this state. Thus, the Turkish-Cypriot side maintains that any political settlement of the Cyprus question should be based on the political equality of the two communities; a principle that rejects any division of the island into majority and minority.


The United Nations Mediation in Cyprus: 1975-1990

The UN mediation in Cyprus during this period is characterised by the complete absence of a clear idea of what the post-1974 political settlement should be. In other words, the UN did not manage to address questions like: should the Zurich-London Agreements be upheld? Did those agreements provide a viable solution to the Cyprus problem at the first place? If not, how could a new political settlement be justified and presented to the affected parties (Turkey and Turkish-Cypriots)? What guarantees could be given to the affected parties for future developments? How committed could the international community be in long-term in providing the necessary guarantees? If such commitments were not upheld by the guarantor powers and the rest of the international community during the events of 1974, why one could expect things to be different in the future?

Instead, the UN tried to bring the two communities of Cyprus together and let them find a solution themselves. But there were two problems that made the reaching of a settlement difficult. First, each of the two communities had different ‘ideal settlements’ in mind. While the Turkish-Cypriot side advocated a return to the Zurich-London principles, the Greek-Cypriot side maintained that a new arrangement should be found and that it should be based on the majority-minority divide. Second, if in the presence of a growing domestic upheaval the inter-communal had failed to produce any concrete results, the Turkish military intervention had, in fact, worsened the situation. Mistrust and hostility had grown to the point that it was impossible for the two sides to agree. Instead, encouraged by the UN stance, they sought to use different international fora to advance their cause and ‘ideal settlement’.

One of the developments that could assist the UN in its mediation efforts was that the idea of unification of Cyprus with Greece was abandoned by the Greek-Cypriot side. Two were the reasons for that. First, a rivalry arose between Athens and Nicosia due to the involvement of Greece in the coup d’ etat of July 1974 which led to the Turkish military intervention and the de facto division of the island. And second, abandoning of the unification idea was also seen as the only way for the Greek-Cypriot side to convince Turkey to withdraw its troops from the island and keep it outside the Cypriot internal affairs after a new settlement was reached. Although there are still Greek-Cypriots who advocate the idea of ‘enosis’, their number is too small to move things to that direction. Nevertheless, they provide a good pretext for the Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot policies.

The first effort of the UN to address the Cyprus problem through mediation, following the Turkish military intervention of 1974 and the failure of the subsequent negotiations in Geneva the same year, was undertaken in 1975. Then the UN Secretary General was entrusted with a good-will mission to bring the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot leaders together under agreed procedures and to facilitate negotiations on equal footing. The same year a population exchange agreement was concluded and implemented under UN auspices.

In 1977 and 1979, two high level agreements were reached between the two sides for seeking a federal solution. The implementation of the Makarios-Denktash (1977) and Kyprianou-Denktash (1979) Agreements, however, was subject to the political calculations of both parties and especially the Greek-Cypriot one.

Specifically, those agreements were more to the favour of the Turkish-Cypriot side than to the Greek-Cypriot. The reason for which the Greek-Cypriot leadership signed those agreements was that under the then existing conditions appeared to be no alternative. However, the Greek-Cypriot side did not attempt to implement the agreements immediately but instead it sought to gain time with the hope that a more favourable settlement could be reached in the future.

From that moment on, a period of ‘missed opportunities’ for the resolution of the Cyprus problem began and which still goes on. This period is characterised by the unsuccessful efforts of the Greek-Cypriots to obtain a settlement that favours their ‘ideal settlement’ and the hardening of the Turkish-Cypriot position. The Greek-Cypriot side, however, denies the fact that there have been ‘missed opportunities’ and argues that those opportunities could not serve the interests of the Cypriot people. Nevertheless, the recent acceptance by the Greek-Cypriots of the creation of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation showed that they had come to accept a settlement that is closer to the ‘ideal settlement’ of the Turkish-Cypriots rather than theirs. At the same time, this reality explains why the Greek-Cypriot side sought to transfer the Cyprus issue from the UN to the EU.

The Turkish-Cypriot side, on the other hand, wants to achieve a political settlement that could put the two communities on equal footing. To this end, it has supported the establishment of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation based on the political equality of the two sides. But when the Greek-Cypriot leadership attempted to use different international fora to advance its cause and interests, in conjunction with the worsening of the relations between Athens and Ankara, the position of the Turkish-Cypriot side hardened. The significant difference between the ‘ideal settlements’ of the two sides led to the collapse of the negotiation process.

Particularly, when the Greek-Cypriot leadership presented its cause before the UN General Assembly in 1983, the Turkish-Cypriot side reacted arguing that this action was not fair since they could not be present and therefore have a fair hearing. As a result and in conjunction with the worsening of the Greek-Turkish relations Rauf Denktash, the leader of the Turkish-Cypriots, proclaimed the same year the establishment of the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’.

In response, the UN with the Security Council Resolutions 541/1983 and 550/1984 condemned the unilateral declaration, declared it illegal and invalid and called for its immediate withdrawal. They also called upon states not to recognise the purported state and not in any way assist the secessionist entity. Finally, the UN General Assembly Resolution 37/253/1983 demanded the withdrawal of the Turkish army from northern Cyprus. Those resolutions were in favour of the Greek-Cypriot side, while non-recognition of the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ allowed the Greek-Cypriot Government to continue speaking on behalf of the whole population of Cyprus. This was unacceptable for the Turkish-Cypriots and relations between the two communities worsened as a consequence.

A series of UN Secretary General’s proposals, such as the Working Points (1984), the Integrated Documents (1985), the Draft Framework Agreement (1986), the Procedural Formula (1987), and the Outline of an Overall Agreement (1988), produced no results since each of the two parties had their own reasons for accepting them in word but not in practice.

Specifically, the Greek-Cypriot leadership adopted such a position for two reasons. First, in view of the determination of the international community not to recognise the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’, the Greek-Cypriot leadership thought that under continuous international isolation the Turkish-Cypriot side would sooner or later give up and would come to accept more and more their proposals. And second, the proposals put forward by the UN were still advocating equal footing between the two communities. Therefore, they were considered to be still quite close to the Turkish-Cypriot positions. The principle of ‘wait and see’ appeared to guide the Greek-Cypriot policy of the era.

The Turkish-Cypriot side, on the other hand, saw that despite its international isolation, the Greek-Cypriot side was unable to convince the international community to accept its own version of ‘ideal settlement’. Thus, hardening of its bargaining position could lead to further extraction of concessions from the Greek-Cypriot side. Yet, the hardening of the Turkish-Cypriot position can be partly explained by the isolation in which the international community had placed the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’. At the end of the day, the Turkish-Cypriot leadership could easily convince the Turkish-Cypriots that between isolation and security the latter was very much preferable.

At the end of the 1980s, the Greek-Cypriot side appeared frustrated by the approach of the UN and sought to transfer the issue to different international bodies. Various European fora were chosen to this end with the EU being one of them. Obviously, the Greek-Cypriots believed that those fora could serve better their interests than the UN. At the same time a rearmament campaign was undertaken by the Greek-Cypriots which further deepened the lack of confidence between the two sides and increased the mistrust between Athens and Ankara. Thus, the search for an agreed settlement was further complicated.

After viewing the situation, the Turkish-Cypriot leadership realised that the Greek-Cypriot side still wished to preserve the post-1963 status quo in Cyprus. They, therefore, began to stress that a federation could only be achieved between friendly units which wanted to come together on equal terms for their common benefit. Unlike what it had proposed previously, the Turkish-Cypriot leadership now suggested that this federation could only be established between two internationally recognised states. In other words, the Greek-Cypriots and the international community should first recognise the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ and then this state and the Republic of Cyprus could come together to create the Cyprus Federation. Moreover, the Turkish-Cypriot side argued that a fundamental change was required in the mentality and approach of the Greek-Cypriots before a new political partnership became a viable project.

The question, however, was, and still is, what guarantees can be given to the Greek-Cypriots that the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ would enter into a federation arrangement especially after having received international recognition and coming out from its current international isolation?

In October 1989, the Turkish-Cypriot side proposed a ‘Declaration of Intent’ whose purpose was to assist the two communities to give up the confrontation approach and begin to replace it with a non-adversarial relationship. This proposal was side-stepped by the Greek-Cypriot leadership but for the Turkish-Cypriot side continued to be the major requirement for giving any agreement on paper the chance to be implemented.

The New York Summit of 1990 began with the unsuccessful meeting between the leaders of the two communities with the UN Secretary General. From the Turkish-Cypriot point of view, this meeting was abortive because the Greek-Cypriot leader was unprepared to genuinely negotiate on the real issues which divided the two sides. Yet, the tensions which continued to rise in Cyprus during this period hardly promoted the right kind of atmosphere. The Turkish-Cypriot position remained clear: the two peoples of Cyprus have the unquestionable capacity to freely determine their political future. This required a freely negotiated and mutually accepted agreement to which the two communities will be in a position to express their consent through separate referenda on the two sides.

In his report to the UN Security Council on 8 March 1990, the UN Secretary General stated that “Cyprus is the common home of the Greek Cypriot community and of the Turkish Cypriot community. Their relationship is not one of the majority and minority”. 24 The UN Security Council Resolution 649 adopted on 12 March 1990 expressed some of the core interests and opinions of the Turkish-Cypriot side and was therefore welcomed by Rauf Denktash. It addressed the two leaders as political equals and it called on them to reach freely a mutually acceptable solution on equal footing. It defined the already agreed basis for the solution as a bi-communal and bi-zonal federation. It also called on the parties to refrain from any action that might aggravate the situation.

While accepting the resolution in principle, Greece and the Greek-Cypriot side took steps which contradicted the call for avoiding any action which could aggravate the situation. Particularly, the Government of the Republic of Cyprus applied for membership of the EU and Greece sought to provide the necessary political support to this end. Greece and the Greek-Cypriot side were not happy with the UN approach to the Cyprus problem but had to accept the UN resolution in principle in order to avoid to be termed as ‘inflexible’. The decision of the Greek-Cypriot leadership to apply for EU membership reflected its frustration with the political developments related to the UN mediation. Thus, it sought to find an indirect solution to the Cyprus problem with the EEC providing the necessary indirect channel.

Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot side, on the other hand, reacted strongly to the Cyprus’ application for accession to the EEC and regarded the latter as not competent to act objectively because of the existence of Greece among its members. Thus, the Republic of Cyprus’ application for full membership in July 1990 brought all efforts for a negotiated settlement to the brink of total collapse.


The EU Factor

The most basic question that one can ask is: why did the Greek-Cypriot leadership seek membership of the EU? Although accession to the EU could provide Cyprus with significant economic and other benefits, the decision to apply for membership was purely political and was related to the resolution of the Cyprus problem.

Particularly, during the negotiations between the two communities in Cyprus two issues posed significant barriers for the Greek-Cypriot side to accept an overall settlement: that of ‘free movement’ and that of ‘free settlement’ within a prospective bi-communal and bi-zonal federation. To solve this problem, the Greek-Cypriot side thought that entry into the EU could directly settle the issue in favour of its position since both freedoms constitute the core of the EECs integration process. If Cyprus could become member of the EEC, the two issues could become irrelevant. On the other hand, the EEC could offer all the necessary security guarantees to the Turkish-Cypriots to join a unified Cypriot state. To this end, the Greek-Cypriot leadership sought to advertise to the Turkish-Cypriots the advantages and security guarantees stemming from EU membership. 25

Specifically, the Greek-Cypriot side has argued that the benefits to Cyprus as a whole from membership of the EU will be quite substantial, with the whole population of the island benefitting from political, economic, social, environmental and other advantages. This is because Cyprus is highly dependent on the EU and greatly affected by its decisions. One has to note, the Greek-Cypriot side has maintained, that 50% of the exports of the Government-controlled part of Cyprus and 64% of Turkish-Cypriot exports are to the EU, to realise how important the EU is for the island.

Yet, the Greek-Cypriot side has noted that a whole range of advantages are expected, covering most areas of business and life in general. The laws and standards will be upgraded and modernised. Social programmes will be brought into line with the high standards of the EU’s Social Charter, while there will also be a greater emphasis on improvement in the environment, safety standards and quality improvement. Overall, a significant improvement in the quality of life is anticipated, especially in the less developed parts of the island which will be eligible for massive EU assistance.

Economic advantages, according to the Greek-Cypriot side, would include first, access of Cypriot goods and services to a huge single market that is expected to lead to an increase of Cypriot exports to EU member states. Second, participation in the internal market will lead to a more efficient allocation of factors of production towards activities in which Cyprus possesses comparative advantages. This will have positive repercussions on growth and development. Third, share in the growth and development of the EU economy. Fourth, attraction of investment from the EU in activities in which Cyprus possesses comparative advantages, thus accelerating the transformation of Cyprus into a regional business centre. Fifth, participation in the European Monetary Union (EMU) would lead to lower inflation and lower interest rates, thus resulting in stronger confidence on the economic actors, increased investment and higher growth rate. Furthermore, participation in the EMU could boost Cypriot exports which will result from the abolition of both the exchange risk and the cost of converting the local currency to Euro in transactions with other members of the EMU. Sixth, widening of the choices of the consumer as far as goods and services are concerned. And seventh, increased financial assistance from the EU to Cyprus with most of the EU funding provided for agriculture and through structural funds.

Due to the nature of the Cyprus problem, the Greek-Cypriot side has highlighted the political advantages stemming from the entry of Cyprus into the EU. Those advantages include first, the improvement of relations between the Greek and Turkish communities by participating in the mechanisms developed by the EU. Cyprus would benefit from the experience gained in Europe after the WW II in building bridges between peoples and communities, as well as from participation in the European integration mechanisms.

Second, improved security for all population of Cyprus, which will derive from membership of a community of states that stresses its attachment to the principle of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. The Union, according to the Greek-Cypriot argumentation, has the economic, political and eventually military power to act both as a deterrent to such violations and to force corrective action where violations occur.

Third, commitment to refer to the European Treaties and the body of the EU law in dealing with problems, thereby, having a reference point for the resolution of disputes and problems that goes beyond the narrow interests of political groups, communities and pressure groups.

Fourth, ability to participate as a voting member in the decision-making processes of the EU, so as to be able to influence decisions that affect Cyprus and the whole of Europe. The importance of Cyprus in the world, as the Greek-Cypriot side stresses, will be increased and the country will be able to influence EU policy and to co-operate with its EU partners in the implementation policy. Finally, all the citizens of Cyprus will be given the EU citizenship.

The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has also specified the advantages that the Turkish-Cypriot community would have if it accepted a unified Cyprus to enter into the EU. According to the Greek-Cypriot side, the Turkish-Cypriots will benefit tremendously from full membership of the EU and the solution to the Cyprus problem, both of which will bring about a sudden and permanent improvement in income and living standards, and will give them all the benefits that European citizens enjoy. Salaries will increase, young people will stop immigrating, unemployment will be reduced, profitability increase, social conditions will be brought up to European level, human rights respected and a more liberal and acceptable form of democracy exercised.

Turkish-Cypriots, the Greek-Cypriot side has argued, would also benefit far more than any other section of Cyprus because the economic and social circumstances of the community have fallen behind the rest of Cyprus since 1974 and as a result they would quickly gain both from the normalisation process and the amount of development assistance that they will receive. To this end, the Greek-Cypriot leadership emphasised the European Commission’s ‘Regular Report on Cyprus’ Progress Towards Accession’, which in October 1998 noted that

“The integration of the northern part of Cyprus, especially if taking place in the context of Cyprus accession to the EU, will not raise major economic difficulties, because of its relatively small size and its potential, in particular, in terms of agriculture and tourism. However, it will be important to bring the basic infrastructure up to the standard of the southern part of the island”. 26

Turkish-Cypriots, the Greek-Cypriot side has maintained, will have the same rights as any other citizen of the EU. The comparative greater needs of the Turkish-Cypriot community will attract special attention in overall national development policy, thus a corresponding substantial amount of co-financing assistance from the EU will be devoted for direct and indirect benefits to the Turkish-Cypriot community.

Finally, according to the Greek-Cypriot leadership, the EU is very concerned about the rights of groups and of individuals as well as the position of the EU Maastricht Treaty. Over and above this formal support, the Greek-Cypriot side has said, the trend in the EU is for communities and nationalities that are not numerically large to reassert their cultural rights, and a great deal of support is provided to such groups, especially where they are in distinct regions.

The Turkish-Cypriot side has not denied the fact that the entry of Cyprus into the EU would provide certain economic, political and other advantages to the Cypriot population as a whole. Instead, it has argued that under the given circumstances political equality and subsequent security take priority for them over other benefits.


The Turkish-Cypriot Reaction to EU Involvement

The Turkish-Cypriot reaction to the involvement of the EU has been negative though the degree of such reaction has varied throughout the 1990s. At the beginning of the decade and after the Greek-Cypriot side applied for accession, the Turkish-Cypriot administration expressed its concern about the developments but due to the initial reaction of the EU, it thought that the Republic of Cyprus would be denied the status of candidature. At the same time, this conscious approach was determined by two facts. First, although Turkey’s application to the EEC had been rejected the ties between the two parties were not cut. Assessment of Turkey’s response to the standards put forward by the European Commission was to take place regularly and this left open the possibility for Turkey to be accepted as a candidate for membership by the EU. Second, the signature of the Customs Union between Turkey and the EU was at view.

The Turkish-Cypriot negative reaction became stronger in the second part of the 1990s. Although the Customs Union between the EU and Turkey was finalised, it was the EU’s denial to provide Turkey with a candidature for membership status at the Luxembourg European Summit in 1997, together with the commencement of the accession negotiations with the Republic of Cyprus in 1998 which led to the worsening of the relations between Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot administration on the one hand, and the EU on the other. Until that moment, the Turkish-Cypriot side had linked the Cyprus problem to the EU’s treatment of Turkey. Following the logic of the Zurich-London Agreements, the Turkish-Cypriot side was not ready to accept the inclusion of Cyprus to any organisation where Turkey and Greece were not members. The Luxembourg decision was in sharp contrast to this principle and therefore the accession of Cyprus to the EU was unacceptable.

Specifically, according to the Turkish-Cypriot administration, the Greek-Cypriot side has made a unilateral application for membership in the European Union ostensibly on behalf of the whole of Cyprus, in the absence of the Turkish-Cypriot partner’s consent, with the view to shifting the ongoing process of negotiations on to the EU platform. 27 The Turkish-Cypriot side has argued that the Greek-Cypriot application under the false prentense, and usurped title, the ‘Government of Cyprus’, is devoid of any legal or moral basis and cannot be binding on the Turkish-Cypriot people or on Cyprus as a whole.

Under the 1960 Agreement, the Turkish-Cypriot side has maintained, in all matters affecting foreign affairs, each community had the power of veto and issues such as membership in international bodies needed consensus. It has also noted that the international agreements on Cyprus preclude the membership of Cyprus to any organisations to which both Turkey and Greece are not members. Furthermore, it has been stressed that such developments contradict the need of mutual consent essential for Cyprus, if it were to enter the EU as an undivided island.

In undertaking such initiatives without the consent of the Turkish-Cypriot side, the Greek-Cypriots, the Turkish-Cypriot side has noted, have acted in total disregard of and in contraversion of the UN negotiation process directed towards a bi-communal, bi-zonal solution. According to the Turkish-Cypriot administration, the Greek-Cypriot stance has demonstrated that the very existence of their former Turkish-Cypriot partner is not a matter worthy of consideration and that they have no intention of acknowledging the Turkish-Cypriots’ rights and aspirations on the island.

The Turkish-Cypriot side has also argued that fully shares the European vision of democracy, secularism, human rights, supremacy of the law and free enterprise. However, due to the conflict on the island, the Turkish-Cypriot side has proposed that the two sides in Cyprus should discuss and agree on matters related to EU membership following an overall settlement, submitting this issue to the approval of the two communities in separate referenda as envisaged by the UN Secretary-General’s 1992 ‘Set of Ideas’.

In spite of the above, and contrary to the supremacy of the law and to the guiding principles set down by the UN for a settlement in Cyprus, the EU has, according to the Turkish-Cypriot side, unjustly decided that the unilateral application by the Greek-Cypriot side is an application proper by and on behalf of Cyprus. According to the Turkish-Cypriot administration, the decision to treat the Greek-Cypriot side as the sole interlocutor for Cyprus has also paved the way for the Greek-Cypriot administration to derogate the Turkish-Cypriot community from its co-founder status to that of minority within a Greek-Cypriot state, and to water down the Treaty of Guarantee and bi-zonality through EU membership.

For the above reasons, the Turkish-Cypriot side has been explaining its views and concerns on the subject of EU membership since the first day the unilateral application was made. Moreover, it has repeatedly warned the EU that treating the Greek-Cypriot side as the sole interlocutor for Cyprus would only help make the Greek-Cypriot side even more intransigent.

Given that Greece is a member of the EU whereas Turkey is not, it is for the Turkish-Cypriot side clear that the EU is not in a position to make a constructive contribution to the resolution of the Cyprus question. According to the Turkish-Cypriot administration, the maintenance of the existing balance established by the 1960 Agreements between the two co-founder peoples in Cyprus, and that between Turkey and Greece over the island is of most importance for the preservation of peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Thus, for the Turkish-Cypriot administration for a just and lasting solution to be achieved, equality between the two sides is of vital importance. On the other hand, it has been maintained that the federation model which had been foreseen in the ‘Set of Ideas’ will not be feasible within the EU. To show the correctness of its argumentation, the Turkish-Cypriot side has pointed out that the Foreign Ministers Conference in Edinburg made clear that a solution to the Cyprus question should be such that it should enable the accession agreement to be implemented throughout Cyprus. Among other things, this meant that the two sides can only find a solution which is in line with the EU acquis communautaire . In such a case, the parameters such as bi-zonality, which were sine qua non for the Turkish-Cypriot side, would either remain on paper or be eroded and this bears the danger of another period of fighting on the island.

Hence, for the Turkish-Cypriot side the involvement of the EU in the efforts towards a negotiated settlement has so far only further complicated the issue and has ultimately destroyed the parameters for a lasting solution. The Turkish-Cypriot side made clear that neither community in Cyprus has the capacity to act on behalf of Cyprus as a whole or to attempt to create international obligations which might be binding on the other community. Such steps require the explicit consent and agreement of both sides in the island. Finally, it has been suggested that any future negotiations for a solution to the Cyprus question should be sought under UN auspices and based on current realities, that is the existence of two sovereign and independent states on the island.

One has to accept two facts. First, the EU approach to the Cyprus problem stands to sharp contrast to the principles embodied in the Zurich-London Agreements and which constitute the basis for the Turkish-Cypriot ‘ideal settlement’. Thus, the EU involvement has threatened the interests of the Turkish-Cypriot leadership and has endorsed those of the Greek-Cypriot side. Second, implementation of the EU regulations within the territory of a federal republic, constructed on a bi-communal, bi-zonal basis as the UN proposals envisaged, will not be possible. Either the regulations will not be implemented or a new political arrangement should be found. Therefore, the EU approach is contrary to the UN efforts although it intended to complement them.


EU and the Cyprus Question

Reviewing the process of Cyprus’ accession to the EU, one can identify two different positions taken by the organisation throughout this period. At the beginning, the principle that underlined the approach of the individual member states was that accepting Cyprus as a candidate state for membership of the EEC could bring the Greek-Turkish problems in the Union. Thus, Cyprus membership of the EU stood in contrast to the previously policy of keeping Greek-Turkish differences outside the EEC. Moreover, Cyprus’ application was made in a year that marked the end of the Cold War and the uncertainties of the period made necessary the careful treatment of the Greek-Turkish relations. To this end, the EU Commissioner Hans Van de Broek stated in 1991 that “Cyprus would not be an issue for the Community and the EEC would not intervene”. In a press conference with Turkish journalists, Van de Broek stated that “Greece has been trying to block EC relations with Turkey by putting the Cyprus problem on the EC’s political agenda” and he stressed that “the EEC would support every political step taken by the UN Secretary General and the parties involved”. 28

By 1997, the process had been reversed. The question is what has contributed to this change? The answer may be found in different sources. First, the Greek Government has managed to alter the European perception that Greece was acting irresponsibly and without taking account of the interests of its European partners. Second, the rise of the European profile of Greece coincided with the worsening of the image of Turkey abroad related mainly to the absence of a truly democratic system, to human rights violations and the treatment of the Kurdish problem. Third, while at the beginning of the decade Turkey was regarded as a pivotal state for the EEC, by the beginning of the second half of the 1990s, the country had lost part of its strategic value. Instead of a pillar of stability, Turkey began to be seen as a factor of regional instability. At the same time, Greece started to be perceived as a pole of stability in the broader region of the Eastern Mediterranean. Despite efforts of Athens to regulate its problems with Ankara, such as withdrawal of its veto concerning the Customs Union with Turkey, Ankara escalated its conflict with Athens. All these factors lead the EU to take a more pro-Greek-Cypriot stance. The more Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot side were becoming inflexible and hardening their positions, the closer the EU was coming to Greece and the Greek-Cypriot side. But this process not only could lead to a deadlock but also could endanger the situation in Cyprus and the Aegean.

EU faced a crucial dilemma in dealing with the Cyprus candidature. Would accession negotiations be the catalyst for breaking the Cyprus impasse that they were hoped for? Or, would accession negotiations lead to a further confrontation between the two sides with unforeseeable consequences? Failure of the UN efforts to produce any concrete results convinced the EU that a non-involvement policy could not, anyway, produce positive results.

Both the EU and the United States calculated that the benefits of accession to the island’s two communities, combined with Ankara’s desire to eliminate Cyprus as a barrier to Turkey’s full membership in the EU, would lead to a comprehensive Cyprus solution that would help to formalise Turkey’s European status. 29 But developments in the Greek-Turkish relations showed that Turkey was not prepared to go along those calculations. At the same time, the UN thought that the EU involvement could be seen as a complementary effort and possibly a more positive one that those of the UN. 30

The problem was that a series of UN proposals were based on the idea of a bi-zonal, bi-communal state where the Turkish-Cypriots sought to acquire an absolute say concerning the right of the Cypriots to move and settle within the territory controlled by the prospective Turkish-Cypriot administration. Entry of a unified Cyprus into the EU could eliminate this control. Thus, while the UN had condemned the existence of two states on the island and had attempted to find a solution providing for a federation, the involvement of the EU undermined those efforts in the sense that the Turkish-Cypriot leadership sought to maintain its separate political existence instead of losing the control which it could have under a settlement achieved under the UN auspices. This seems to be the reason for which the Turkish-Cypriot side has sought to settle the Cyprus problem within the UN framework.


EU-Cyprus Relations: 1990 to the Present

This section will discuss the relations between Cyprus and the EU from 1999 to the present. To understand the nature and development of these relations, however, one needs to see them in conjunction with the efforts of the UN to deal with the Cyprus question.

On 4 July 1990 the application of the Republic of Cyprus for accession to the European Communities was presented to the Foreign Minister of Italy, the then President of the European Council. 31 The Council accepted the application and sent it for consideration by the Commission on 17 September 1990.

In 1991, informal talks began between the Turkish-Cypriot administration and the UN Secretariat for an ‘Outline for an Overall Agreement’. The Turkish-Cypriot side put forward two main questions. First, is there an ‘occupation’ in Cyprus, or there is an effort to resolve a question which began in 1955 with the breakdown of the bi-communal partnership? And second, is there, in fact and in law, a joint political authority on the island competent to exercise sovereignty all over Cyprus and to speak for both communities? 32 But these talks did not produce any immediate result.

In May 1992, the European Parliament expressed its reservations for the inclusion of Turkey into the EEC. 33 The same year, and particularly in June 1992 the UN Secretary General Boutros-Boutros Ghali invited the leaders of the two communities for discussions on a new UN initiative for an overall framework agreement on Cyprus. These parameters were embodied in the ‘Set of Ideas’. 34

During the proximity talks (15 July-11 August), the President of the Republic of Cyprus, George Vassiliou insisted that the Turkish-Cypriot side concede to demands for territorial concessions before other issues could be taken up. These talks focused on territorial adjustments and displaced persons, constituting two of the eight headings of the ‘Set of Ideas’. The Secretary General stressed that he would not proceed to a discussion of the other issues unless he was satisfied that reasonable progress had been made in bringing the sides within agreement range on those two issues. When an agreement on the territorial issue was achieved, the Secretary General expressed his satisfaction.

Although an initial agreement was reached on the territorial issue, it became clear that the Greek-Cypriot side did not want to adhere to the principle of political equality between the two communities and the fact that sovereignty emanates from both of them. On 14 August the talks were recessed and it was decided to be re-convened on 26 October.

Between 28 October and 11 November 1992, another round of talks between the two leaders on the ‘Set of Ideas’ were held in New York. The Turkish-Cypriot side declared that it basically agrees with 91 out of the 100 paragraphs in the ‘Set of Ideas’. The Greek-Cypriot side stated that it accepts the ‘Set of Ideas’ as a basis for reaching an overall agreement but that it was subject to negotiation. Talks were to be resumed in March 1993, after the presidential elections in Cyprus. In his report to the UN Security Council, the Secretary General stated that “there is a deep crisis of confidence between the two sides. It is difficult to envisage any successful outcome to the talks as long as this situation prevails”. 35

Three reasons can explain the stance of the Greek-Cypriot side. First, its dissatisfaction with the points included in the ‘Set of Ideas’; second, the President of the Republic of Cyprus could not commit himself in view of the forthcoming presidential elections; and third, time was sought to be gained in view of the decision of the European Commission concerning the application for accession to the EU.

The European Commission, in its opinion on the application issued on 30 June 1993 and endorsed by the Council on 17 October of the same year, considered Cyprus eligible for membership and in expectation of progress on the political problem confirmed that the European Community was ready to start the process with Cyprus that should lead to its eventual accession. 36

The Commission noted that a political settlement would serve only to reinforce the ties which link Cyprus to Europe. At the same time, a settlement would open the way to the full restoration of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the island and encourage the development of pluralist democracy. The Commission also expressed its conviction that the result of Cyprus’ accession to the EEC would be increased security and prosperity that it would help bring the two communities closer together.

Touching the issue of compatibility of proposed political settlements with the application of EEC regulations, the Commission stated that Cyprus’ integration with the EEC implied a peaceful, balanced and lasting settlement of the Cyprus question which should create the appropriate conditions for Cyprus to participate normally in the decision-making process of the EEC and in the correct application of EEC law throughout the island.

Acceptance of Cyprus was explained by the EU’s hope and optimism that the UN efforts could soon produce a mutually acceptable settlement. As the Commission itself noted, “in expectation of significant progress in the talks pursued within the framework of the UN, a positive signal should be sent that the EEC considers Cyprus as eligible for membership and that as soon as the prospect of a settlement is surer, the EEC will be ready to start the process with Cyprus that should eventually lead to its accession”. This meant that the Commission made the accession negotiations subject to the progress in the inter-communal talks. In fact, the Commission made it clear that in case that the inter-communal talks would produce no results, the situation should be reassessed in view of the positions adopted by each party in the talks and that the question of Cyprus’ accession should be reconsidered in January 1995.

When the elections were held in Cyprus, Glafkos Clerides, whose electoral campaign focused on the rejection of the ‘Set of Ideas’, was elected President. After the elections, the UN Secretary General and the President of the Security Council urged the two leaders to resume negotiations on the basis of the ‘Set of Ideas’ starting with the implementation of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs). To this end proximity talks were held with the UN representatives in Cyprus from February through June 1994 but without success. When the European Council at Corfu in June 1974 confirmed that the next round of the Union’s enlargement would involve Cyprus and Malta, Clerides’ confidence for a solution within the EU framework was increased.

Between 18-31 October 1994, the leaders of the two communities met for a series of informal consultations concerning the implementation of the CBMs. Clerides, however, put the EU membership of Cyprus as a precondition for talks and thereby altered the agenda. He made it very clear that he did not want to discuss the CBMs until after a settlement was reached. The consultations ended without any progress. Clerides declared that there was no common ground for direct talks and threatened the UN and US with resignation if they were to pressure him any further. 37 His position was strengthened even more when the European Council at Essen in December 1994 re-confirmed that the next round of the Union’s enlargement would involve Cyprus and Malta.

On 20 January 1995, Denktas launched an initiative whereby he expressed his readiness to implement the UN sponsored CBMs and begin talks without preconditions towards a viable bi-communal, bi-zonal federal solution. He also declared his readiness to discuss the subject of EU membership of the Federal Republic once an overall agreement was reached.

This proposal was exactly the opposite of the one Clerides had suggested before. He, therefore, rejected the Turkish-Cypriot proposal while circles within the UN and US view it as positive. For example, on 23 January, the US Presidential Envoy for Cyprus, Richard Beattie, handed to Denktas a special message from President Clinton which underlined the support of US for “a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in which the two political communities can exist as a single state” and emphasised that the way forward was the implementation of the CBMs. 38 This made it obvious that international efforts in dealing with the Cyprus question were far from being in uniformity.

The EU Council of Ministers, after examining the report of the European Union Observer for Cyprus on 6 March 1995, reaffirmed the suitability of Cyprus for accession to the EU and confirmed the incorporation of Cyprus in the next stage of the EU enlargement. 39

The Council regretted the lack of progress in the inter-communal talks and called upon the parties to step up their efforts to achieve a comprehensive settlement according to the relevant UN proposals. The Council also considered that Cyprus’ accession to the EU should bring increased security and prosperity to both communities on the island. In particular it should allow the northern part of the island to catch up economically and should improve the outlook for growth and employment particularly for the Turkish-Cypriot community. The Council expressed the view that the Turkish-Cypriot community should perceive the advantages of EU accession more clearly and its concern at the prospect should be allayed. The Council called upon the Commission to organise, in consultation with the Government of Cyprus, the requisite contacts to this end with the Turkish-Cypriot community. The Council concluded that the accession negotiations would start on the basis of Commission proposals six months after the conclusion of the 1996 Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC), taking into account the results of the Conference.

The EU-Cyprus Association Council adopted on 12 June 1995 a common resolution on the establishment of a structured dialogue between the EU and Cyprus and on certain elements of the strategy to prepare it for accession. The resolution included some specific points to be covered by the pre-accession strategy such as efforts to familiarise the Cypriots with the acquis communautaire 40 and enable Cyprus to participate in various Community programmes. 41 The Association Council agreed that Cyprus’ membership of the Union was intended to bring benefits to both communities on the island and contribute to peace and reconciliation.

On 17 July 1995, the EU adopted the precise arrangements for the structured dialogue involving EU meetings of heads of state and government, ministers, political directors and experts as well as possible alignment with the Union’s declarations, and association with the Union’s demarches and the implementation of joint actions. 42

The structured dialogue meetings have served as a vital forum for close exchanges of views and an in-depth examination of progress made by Cyprus with regard to the harmonisation of its legislation, policies and practices for eventual accession. In the meantime the Union reaffirmed on several occasions (Cannes, Madrid and Florence Summits) that accession negotiations should start six months after the conclusion of the IGC and the Council’s Presidency appointed an envoy to monitor developments on Cyprus and to follow the UN efforts for a political settlement.

The ‘Joint military Doctrine’ between Greece and Cyprus in conjunction with the increased military spending on the island and the order of the S-300 missiles aggravated the situation. The U.S and the EU reacted negatively to this development declaring that the S-300 would complicate efforts to achieve lasting peace in Cyprus and introduce a new and destabilising element on the island. As a response, Denktas and Süleyman Demirel signed the Joint Declaration of 20 January 1997. Meanwhile the dramatic events of the Summer 1996 had occurred which deepened the hostility between the two communities in Cyprus.

During the week of 17 March 1997, the Deputy Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Cyprus, Gustave Feissel, commenced a new series of proximity talks which were to take place in New York on 9-13 July 1997. On 14 July, the Special advisor of the UN Secretary General on Cyprus, Diego Cordovez reported that the gap between the two sides was enormous but he believed commitment existed to move forward. This impression was also shared by the US Presidential Envoy Richard Holbrooke who had separate meetings with the two leaders both before and after their talks.

On 27 June 1997, the Heads of Government of the ten Eastern and Cantral European countries, Cyprus and Turkey were debriefed by Dutch Prime Minister Kok, Foreign Minister van Mierlo, Commission President Santer and Comissioner Van den Broek on the results of the Amsterdam European Summit which had officially brought the IGC to a close. 43 The Council and the Commission provided extensive details of the resulting Treaty outlining areas where significant improvements have been made and explaining the institutional agreements relating to enlargement.

Three weeks later, on 16 July, the Commission, in Agenda 2000, its communication to the European Parliament on the future development of the Union, re-assessed the situation since the publication of its ‘Opinion on Cyprus’ in 1993 and confirmed that accession negotiations would indeed begin as planned. 44

Agenda 2000 reiterated the Union’s determination to play a positive role in bringing about a just and lasting settlement in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions. To this end, the Council continued to renew the appointments of a Presidency envoy for Cyprus to monitor and report on developments for a political settlement.

The Commission’s assessment was that the status quo threatened the stability of the island and the region and had implications for the security of Europe as a whole. The Union could not, the Agenda went on, interfere in the institutional arrangements to be agreed between the parties. But it was available to advise on the compatibility of such arrangements with the acquis communautaire . It also felt that the prospect of accession could in itself provide such an incentive.

Unlike what it was intended by then, the timetable agreed for accession negotiations to start with Cyprus meant that they could start before a political settlement was reached. Agenda 2000 made it clear that if progress towards a settlement was not reached before the negotiations were due to begin, they should be opened with the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, as the only authority recognised by international law. The Commissioner urged the parties to exploit the window of opportunity that existed for a negotiating settlement before the start of accession negotiations and pledged continuation of the Commission’s bi-communal activities and projects aimed at informing the Turkish-Cypriot community about the advantages of accession.

Finally, the Commission shared the view expressed by the UN Secretary General that the decision to open negotiations should be seen as a positive development which could promote the search for a political settlement. The Commission felt that the negotiations on accession would be facilitated if sufficient progress was made between the parties in 1997 to allow representatives of the Turkish-Cypriot community to be involved in the accession process, and the agreement on a political settlement would permit a faster conclusion to the accession negotiations.

As a consequence of the EU positions included in the Agenda 2000, the promising atmosphere created by the first negotiations between the leaders of the two communities since October 1992 was frustrated. Inclusion of Cyprus among the six countries to start accession negotiations with the EU early next year attracted the strong reaction of the Turkish-Cypriot side which argued that the decision of the European Commission, taken in complete disregard of the international treaties governing Cyprus, only helped eliminate the chances of success in the ongoing negotiations by encouraging the Greek-Cypriot side to become even more intransigent.

In fact, Clerides had made it clear that the Greek-Cypriot side would be attending the direct negotiations under the UN auspices only to ensure the EU membership of Cyprus. On 3 June 1997, the Greek press quoted Clerides saying that the decision to attend direct talks was “a purely cosmetic move in order not to appear as the negative side and so harm the Republic’s prospects of accession to the EU”. In response, Denktas and Demiral signed the Joint Declaration of 20 July 1997 in which they expressed their will and determination to further deepen and strengthen the existing co-operation established between the two countries within the framework of the 20 January 1997 Joint Declaration. They declared that “every structural co-operation and harmonization measure to be initiated between the Greek-Cypriot administration of Southern Cyprus and the EU will be similarly implemented between the TRNC and Turkey”. 45

In a declaration followed the signing of the Association Council Agreement of 6 August 1997, Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriot administration stated that the EU, which should acknowledge the political realities of the island and the region, would bear the responsibility for any negative developments arising from the commencement of the accession negotiations between Cyprus and the EU.

To deal with the deterioration of the situation, a meeting was arranged between the leaders of the two communities in Glion, Switzerland, under the UN. The meeting produced no results since neither Clerides nor Dengtas moved away from their previous positions. Their ‘ideal settlements’ were still in conflict. Expressing his deep concern about the disappointing outcome of the direct talks in Glion, Commissioner Van de Broek stated that the precondition for progress set by the Turkish-Cypriot leadership, implying the freezing of the Union’s commitment to start accession negotiations with Cyprus in early 1998 was unacceptable and reconfirmed that the launch of those negotiations would proceed as agreed by the Union in March 1995. 46 Evidently, the EU was moving closer and closer to the position of Greece and the Greek-Cypriots. Hostility in Cyprus was to be very soon accompanied by hostility between Athens and Ankara as a result of the Luxembourg European Summit.

At the EU Luxembourg Summit that took place on 12-13 December 1997, the European Council took two important decisions. First, to commence accession negotiations with Cyprus; and second, not to include Turkey among the prospective members of the EU.

Specifically, on the basis of the Commission proposals included in the Agenda 2000, and taking into account the successful conclusion of the IGC, the European Council at Luxembourg in December 1997 decided to initiate a comprehensive enlargement process with the ten applicant countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Cyprus on 30 March 1998. The process provided for an enhanced pre-accession strategy and special pre-accession aid for the CEE applicants, and a special pre-accession strategy for Cyprus comprising participation in certain projects, programmes and agencies.

Moreover, the Luxembourg European Council adopted the proposal of the Commission to convene bilateral inter-governmental conferences in the Spring of 1998 to begin accession negotiations with Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. In addition, the Luxembourg European Council stated that “the accession of Cyprus should benefit all communities and help bring civil peace and reconciliation. The accession process will contribute positively to the search for apolitical solution to the Cyprus problem through the talks under the aegis of the United Nations which must continue with a view of creating a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation. In this context, the European Council requested that the willingness of the Government of Cyprus to include representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community in the accession negotiating delegation be acted upon”. 47

The Luxembourg Summit introduced a ‘European Strategy for Turkey’. The European Council confirmed the country’s eligibility for accession to the EU but postponed it until the political and economic conditions allowing accession negotiations were satisfied. Moreover, under the influence of Greece, acceptance of Turkey by the EU became subject to the improvement of its relations with Greece and the settlement of the Greek-Turkish bilateral disputes, in particular by legal means. Moreover, the Council identified mechanisms aimed at bringing Turkey closer to the EU, but which nevertheless did not satisfy Turkey. Instead, Ankara considered its treatment discriminatory in comparison to that given to other applicants and refused to participate in the mechanisms proposed by the EU with which Ankara decided to cut all dialogue lines.

It was inevitable that the EU decisions could ultimately destroy the parameters established through the good-will mission of the UN Secretary General for a solution to the Cyprus problem. Indeed, the Turkish-Cypriot side argued that the Luxembourg decision helped destroy the established framework for a settlement in Cyprus which had emerged through the process of inter-communal talks.

On 12 March 1998, Cyprus attended the first meeting of the European Conference in London. On that occasion, President Clerides presented to the European Council Presidency a formal proposal inviting the Turkish-Cypriots to appoint representatives as full members of the team negotiating the accession of Cyprus to the EU. This call made on behalf of the Government of Cyprus and in his capacity as the President of Cyprus; a fact that according to the Turkish-Cypriot side demonstrates the will of the Greek-Cypriots to impose their political will on the Turkish-Cypriots through EU membership and become the supreme administrator of the island. For this reason the Turkish-Cypriot side did not accept the proposal for participation. Nevertheless, this proposal has remained on the table as an invitation for the Turkish-Cypriot side to participate.

The Cyprus-EU accession negotiations were launched on 31 March 1998. In his opening remarks, the President of the Council of Ministers, British Foreigner Minister Robin Cook welcomed the commencement of accession negotiations with Cyprus, and expressed the hope that these will make swift progress. 48 The President of the Council emphasised that “The Union believes that Cyprus’ accession to the EU should benefit all communities, including the Turkish-Cypriot community, and help to bring about civil peace and reconciliation on the island”. He added that the EU welcomes the offer

“made to include Turkish-Cypriot representative in the team for negotiating the terms of Cyprus’ accession to EU. The EU regrets that the Turkish-Cypriot community has so far responded negatively to this offer. It reiterates the importance that it attaches to associating the Turkish-Cypriots with the accession process, in accordance with the conclusions of the Luxembourg European Council. The Presidency and the Commission will pursue the necessary contacts”. Finally, Robin Cook made it clear that a political settlement should allow the provisions of the Accession Treaty to be implemented throughout the island. In this way, he touched the issue of compatibility between the application of the EU regulations and the prospective political settlement over Cyprus.

The first stage of the accession negotiations which was initiated on 3 April 1998 involved the analytical examination of the acquis communautaire , which has been separated into 31 chapters for easy reference. 49 During this stage ( acquis screening ), the European Commission presented and explained the acquis in a certain area. The applicant country presented its own policy in the area, and the two are compared, so that the necessary legislative or other changes needed to achieve harmonisation are identified. The acquis screening completed in September 1999. In the meantime, substantive negotiations on certain chapters of the acquis have begun.

During its meeting in Cardiff, on 15-16 June 1998, the European Council noted that following the opening of accession negotiations on 31 March 1998 with Cyprus, the screening exercises for seven chapters of the acquis had been completed. The Cardiff European Council also noted that “the Union’s priority is to maintain the enlargement process for the countries covered in the Luxembourg European Council conclusions, within which they can actively pursued their candidatures and make progress towards taking on the obligations of membership including the Copenhagen criteria”. 50

The European Council, which met in Vienna in December 1998, reviewed the accession process and noted with satisfaction that “the six Accession Conferences with Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia have entered into substantive negotiations and reached the first concrete results”. 51 The Council also underlined the importance that it attached to the further development of relations between the EU and Turkey and emphasised the necessity of carrying on with the ‘European Strategy’ in line with its conclusions in Luxembourg and Cardiff.

In its statement of 30 December 1998, the Austrian Presidency noted that

“The European Union welcomes the decision taken by Cypriot President Clafkos Clerides on 29 December not to bring S-300 missiles to the island. This decision has eliminated a source of tension on the island and should encourage progress towards a just and lasting settlement of the Cyprus conflict. It should be followed by gestures also from Turkish side. The European Union considers President Clerides’ decision to be an important signal for the reduction of the excessively high level of armaments in Cyprus and hopes that further steps in this direction will be taken by both sides. The European Union strongly endorses Resolutions 1217 and 1218 passed by the UN Security Council on 22 December and fully supports the ongoing efforts of the UN Secretary General’s Deputy Special Representative for Cyprus. The European Union is of the view that President Clerides’ decision constitutes a positive development also in the perspective of Cyprus’ EU accession. It shows that the increasingly strong ties between Cyprus and the European Union are able to contribute to the reduction of tensions and to the search for a political solution. The EU will continue to work in accordance with the conclusions of the European Council of Luxembourg for the involvement of representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community in the EU accession negotiations. The European Union calls on all parties to continue to co-operate with the UN Secretary General with a view reaching a comprehensive and lasting settlement on Cyprus in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions”. 52

On 14-16 January 1999, a team of the European Commission visited Cyprus to discuss about the accession negotiations. 53 On 1 February 1999, Commissioner Van den Broek held discussions with the Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kassoulides. Van den Broek stressed that the EU demands from Turkey that it should avoid actions which could slow down progress towards the integration of Cyprus into the EU. 54 Among other things, Van den Broek emphasised that it was imperative for the Greek-Cypriot leadership to continue its efforts of informing the Turkish-Cypriots about the progress in the accession negotiations. To this end, a meeting was organised in London on 19 March 1999 where the Turkish-Cypriots were briefed on the EU accession negotiations. Leopold Maurer, the Chief Negotiator for Cyprus at the Task Force for Accession Negotiations, who also attended the meeting, stated that his impression was that the Turkish-Cypriots were in favour of Cyprus’ accession and expressed its satisfaction to that end. 55

On 26-27 March, a meeting was held in Cyprus of the chief negotiators of the six applicant countries to discuss progress in the negotiation process. 56 On 19 April, the third EU-Cyprus intergovernmental conference was held in Brussels where satisfaction was expressed with the encouraging position of the EU partners during the Berlin Summit. 57

On 21 April 1999, George Vassiliou, the Head of the Negotiating Team for the Accession of Cyprus to the EU met with the French Minister for European Affairs Pierre Moscovici in Paris. 58 The meeting was held in the framework of contacts the Cyprus Government has established for the smooth promotion of Cyprus’ accession process. Vassiliou explained the importance of conducting uninterrupted accession negotiations and he stressed in particular the need to avoid turning into a political issue certain technical matters arising from the de facto division of Cyprus. He also stressed the need for the resumption of inter-communal talks. Moscovici, on the other hand, expressed France’s support for efforts to solve the Cyprus problem on the basis of the UN resolutions and procedures.

During the fourth EU-Cyprus intergovernmental conference held in Brussels on 19 May 1999, Vassiliou briefed the EU partners about the substantive progress that Cyprus had made towards accession. 59 The normal development of the negotiating process for Cyprus’ accession to the EU was reaffirmed at the Third Intergovernmental Conference for Cyprus’ Accession to the EU, which was held at ministerial level on 21 July. The good performance of Cyprus was acknowledged by the German Presidency and the European Commission. In his opening statement, the President of the EU Council of Ministers, Deputy Foreign Minister of Germany, Gunter Verhengen noted the substantial progress that had been made and expressed the determination of the EU to continue at the same pace. He also expressed his regret for the fact that a solution to the Cyprus problem has not yet been reached but welcomed the fact that Cyprus continues to inform the Turkish-Cypriots about the accession negotiations. He also reiterated the EU’s support for the UN Secretary General’s efforts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem. In response, the Cypriot Foreign Minister Kassoulides said that the Government of Cyprus would increase its efforts to communicate to the Turkish-Cypriots living in Cyprus or abroad about any progress made in the accession negotiations. 60

Progress in the accession negotiations was positively reviewed during the EU delegation visit to Cyprus (23-26 June), the Candidate Countries Review Progress (22-23 September), the fifth and sixth meetings of the conference on Cyprus’ accession to the EU (30 September and 12 December 1999). A summary of Cyprus’ progress was provided during the fourth meeting of the intergovernmental conference at ministerial level in Brussels on 7 December. 61

Meanwhile, an important development occurred which may provide the fertile ground in the near future for the resolution of the Cyprus problem. Specifically, in the Summer 1999, and after months of increasing hostility due to the Ocalan case, relations between Greece and Turkey improved considerably as a result of the decision of the two governments to help each other in dealing with the problems created by the earthquakes. This does not mean that it was the earthquakes themselves that brought the two countries closer. It rather means that they provided the necessary pretext for a policy change of policy that could serve both their individual and common interests.

Good relations between Athens and Ankara have produced two results. First, a series of agreement have been reached on ‘soft’ issues; and second, with the active support of Athens, the EU Summit at Helsinki has decided to accept Turkey as a candidate state for accession. Moreover, the Helsinki European Council decided that the resolution of the political problem is not a precondition to Cyprus’ accession to the EU. The Council also confirmed that since the Turkish-Cypriot side refuses to participate in the negotiating team representing Cyprus in the accession negotiations, the Cyprus Government can carry on without their participation.

It is important to mention that change in the Greek policy towards Ankara has assisted the EU to develop a more positive approach to Turkey and implement its ‘European Strategy’ which many circles have considered as necessary for dealing with the Cyprus question. 62 In turn, good relations between Athens and Ankara may influence the stance of the Turkish-Cypriot leadership in the sense that Turkey may think that its own interests may be hurt as a result of the ‘inflexibility’ of the Turkish-Cypriot administration. At the same time, the warming of the Greek-Turkish relations may reduce the hostility and mistrust between the two communities in Cyprus.

During the Maurer’s visit to Cyprus on 25-30 January 2000, Cyprus progress was once more emphasised. Maurer highlighted the importance of the Helsinki Summit Conclusions on Cyprus, reiterating that the negotiations can continue unobstructed now that the solution of the political problem is not a precondition to Cyprus’ accession to the EU. 63 With regard to the participation of the Turkish-Cypriot community to the EU negotiations, he stated that the EU would be ready at any time to negotiate with the Cypriot delegation which will include Turkish-Cypriots, adding that it is very important that Cyprus is represented by one voice.



The purpose of this paper was to discuss the issue of Cyprus' membership of the EU. To this end, it attempted to place the issue of membership into the larger historical and political context concerning the Cyprus problem. In doing so, it advanced a set of arguments. First, the issue of Cyprus’ accession to EU has been strongly related to the resolution of the Cyprus problem. Second, the EU’s policy towards Cyprus has been inconsistent and determined by factors related to the Greek-Turkish relations. Inconsistency can be explained by the changing behaviour of Athens and Ankara in matters related to their bilateral disputes and the Cyprus question. Third, although the EU has intended to put its policy towards Cyprus in line with that of the UN, the logic of the European integration process runs into conflict with the proposals for a political settlement advanced by the UN. Fourth, the resolution of the Cyprus problem is extremely difficult due to the existence of two fundamentally different views of ‘ideal settlement’ pursued by the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot sides respectively. In fact, the UN proposals come closer to the Turkish-Cypriot view, while the EU approach endorses the interests of the Greek-Cypriots. This had led the two communities to pursue opportunistic policies designed to unable them to obtain their version of ‘ideal settlement’. Finally, the issue of Cyprus’ accession to EU is strongly related to the relations between Greece and Turkey as well as the acceptance of Turkey as a prospective member of the EU. Therefore, the recent warming in the relations between Athens and Ankara may provide the fertile ground for a political settlement over Cyprus problem that could enable the island as a whole to join the EU.



Note *: Professor of International Relations, Schiller International University
Senior Analyst, ARIS Research and Consultancy Office for Security Studies.  Back.

Note 1: Cited in Ergün Olgun, “Recognising Two States in Cyprus Would Facilitate Co-existence and Stability”, Survival, vol. 40, no. 3, Autumn 1998, pp. 35-42, on p. 35.  Back.

Note 2: Cited in Olgun, p. 36.  Back.

Note 3: Cited in Andrew Faulds, Exceptra Cypria for Today (London: Rüstem & Brother, 1985), p. 17.  Back.

Note 4: Cited in Background of the Cyprus Problem (Directorate General of Press and Information: Ankara, 1998), p. 5.  Back.

Note 5: Cited in Faulds, Exceptra Cypria for Today , p. 5.  Back.

Note 6: Cited in Olgun, “Recognising Two States in Cyprus”, p. 36.  Back.

Note 7: “Report of the UN Secretary General on the Organisation and the Operation of the UN Peace-Keeping Force in Cyprus”, Document S/5679, 2 May 1964.  Back.

Note 8: See Suha Bolukbasi, Turkish-American Relations and Cyprus (London, 1988); Van Koufoudakis, “The Cyprus Problem, Greek-Turkish Relations, and the Superpowers: 1960-1986”, in Alexis Alexandris et. al (eds.), Greek-Turkish Relations 1923-1987 (Athens, 1988); Vam Koufoudakis, “United States Foreign Polivy and the Cyprus Question”, in T. Couloumbis and A. Hicks (eds.), U.S. Foreign Policy Towards Greece and Cyprus (Washington, 1975); Van Coufoudakis, “US Foreign Policy and the Cyprus Question: An Interpretation”, Millennium, vol. 5, no. 3, Winter 1976-77, pp. 245-68; and Monteagle Sterns, Entangled Allies: US Policy Towards Greece, Turkey and Cyprus (New York, 1992).  Back.

Note 9: Cited in Olgun, “Recognising Two States in Cyprus”, p. 37.  Back.

Note 10: See Background of the Cyprus Problem , p. 7.  Back.

Note 11: Cyprus-European Union: A Brief History,  Back.

Note 12: See Gary Miller, “An Integrated Communities Approach” in Gerd Nonneman, The Middle East and Europe (London: Federal Trust, 1992), chapter 1.  Back.

Note 13: Cyprus-European Union: A Brief History,  Back.

Note 14: Cyprus-European Union: A Brief History,  Back.

Note 15: Assistance Provided by the EU: Fourth Financial Protocol,  Back.

Note 16: Miller, “An Integrated Communities Approach” in Nonneman, Europe and The Middle East .  Back.

Note 17: Commission’s Opinion on Turkey’s Request for Accession to the Community (Brussels: European Commission, December 1989).  Back.

Note 18: For the EU-Turkish Relations see Andrea K. Riemer, “Turkey and the European Union: An Ever Ending Story”, in T. Couloubis, T. Veramis and D. Triantaphyllou (eds), The Southeast European Yearbook 1998-99 (Athens, 1999), pp. 269-307 and Meltem Müftüler-Bac, Europe in Change: Turkey’s Relations with a Changing Europe (New York: Manchester University Press, 1997).  Back.

Note 19: “The Cyprus Issue” in Hellenic Republic, Foreign and European Perspectives (Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Athens, 1988).  Back.

Note 20: See Clement H. Dodd, The Cyprus Issue: A Current Perspective , 2 nd edition (Huntington, 1995); Necati M. Ertegun , The Cyprus Dispute (Oxford, 1981); Robert McDonald, The Problem of Cyprus , Adelphi Paper, no. 234 (London: IISS, 1988).  Back.

Note 21: “The Issue of Cyprus”, Hellenic Republic, Foreign and European Perspectives .  Back.

Note 22: See Heinz Kramer, “The Cyprus Problem and European Security”, Survival, vol. 39, no. 3, Autumn 1997, pp. 16-32.  Back.

Note 23: For the issues of partition see Philippos Savvides, “The Dynamics of Partition: Problems and Implications: The Case of Cyprus”, paper presented at the ISA Annual Convention, Minneapolis, 17-21 March 1998 and “Partition Revisited: Changing Attitudes, Problems and Implications: The Case of Cyprus”, paper presented at the Third Pan-European International Relations Conference, Vienna 16-19 September 1998.  Back.

Note 24: Document S/21183, 8 March 1990.  Back.

Note 25: Benefits of Accession to the European Union: Questions Relating to the Whole of Cyprus,  Back.

Note 26: Benefits of Accession to the European Union: Questions Relating to the Turkish-Cypriots,  Back.

Note 27: Background of the Cyprus Problem , pp. 14-6.  Back.

Note 28: Cited in Hüseyin Bagci, “Turkish Reactions to the EU Approach” in Susanne Baier-Allen (ed.), Looking into the Future of Cyprus-EU Relations (Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft: Baden-Baden, 1999), p. 42.  Back.

Note 29: See Elizabeth H. Prodromou, “Reintegrating Cyprus: Need for a New Approach”, Survival, vol. 40, no. 3, Autumn 1998, pp. 5-24, on p. 5.  Back.

Note 30: See Joseph Joseph, Cyprus: Ethnic Conflict and International Politics (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997);  Back.

Note 31: For the Cyprus Accession to EU see Stelios Stavrides, “Double Standards, Ethics and Democratic Principles in Foreign Policy: The European Union and the Cyprus Problem”, in Mediterranean Politics , vol. 4, no. 1, Spring 1999, pp. 95-112; Joseph Joseph, “The EU Enlargement from a Different Angle: The View of Cyprus”, paper presented at the ISA Annual Convention, Minneapolis, 17-21 March 1998; Alecos P. Michaelides, “Cyprus and EU Enlargement”, in T. Couloubis, T. Veremis and D. Traintaphyllou (eds), The Southeast European Yearbook 1998-99 (Athens, 199), pp. 261-67; and Andreas Theophanous, “The European Union and Cyprus”, paper presented during the Europadialogue, Bonn, 20 January 1998.  Back.

Note 32: Background to the Cyprus Problem , p. 10.  Back.

Note 33: Report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Security on EC-Turkey Relations (Brussels: European Parliament, May 1992).  Back.

Note 34: Document S/24472, 21 August 1992.  Back.

Note 35: Cited in Background of the Cyprus Problem , p. 12. See also Suha Bolukbasi, “Boutros-Ghali’s Cyprus Initiative in 1992: Why did It Fail?”, Middle East Studies , vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 460-82.  Back.

Note 36: Commission Opinion On the Application by the Republic of Cyprus for Membership (Bulletin of the European Communities, Supplement 5/93).  Back.

Note 37: See Philippos Savvides, “US Foreign Policy Toward Cyprus: Is the Theory of Continuity Still Relevant”, Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora , vol. 41, no. 1, 1998; Aylin Avci, “An Assessment of the US Involvement in the Cyprus Question in the Post-Cold War Era: New Bottles, Old Wine?”, paper presented at the Second International Congress on Cyprus Studies, November 24-27, 1998.  Back.

Note 38: Cited in Background of the Cyprus Problem , p.14.  Back.

Note 39: General Affairs Council of Ministers Decision on Cyprus’ Accession, 6 March 1995, Documents,  Back.

Note 40: Cyprus and European Union: The Negotiation Procedure,  Back.

Note 41: For those programmes see Assistance Provided by the EU: Participation of Cyprus in EU Programmes,  Back.

Note 42: EU-Cyprus Relations: Structured Dialogue,  Back.

Note 43: Cyprus-European Union: A Brief History,  Back.

Note 44: European Commission: Agenda 2000,  Back.

Note 45: Cited in Background of the Cyprus Problem , p. 20.  Back.

Note 46: EU-Cyprus Relations: Countdown,  Back.

Note 47: Luxembourg European Council: Presidency Conclusions, 13 December 1997,  Back.

Note 48: Documents, Opening Remarks by Robin Cook at the Opening of Accession Negotiations with Cyprus, 31 March 1998,  Back.

Note 49: Cyprus and European Union: Accession Negotiations, The Negotiation Procedure: Acquis Communautaire,  Back.

Note 50: Cyprus-European Union: A Brief History,  Back.

Note 51: Documents, Vienna European Council, 12 December 1998, Statement by the EU Presidency,  Back.

Note 52: Statement by the EU Presidency,  Back.

Note 53: News and Developments,  Back.

Note 54: Meeting between Commissioner Hans Van den Broek and Minister of External Affairs Ioannis Kassoulides, 1 February 1999,  Back.

Note 55: News and Developments,  Back.

Note 56: News and Developments,  Back.

Note 57: 3 rd EU-Cyprus Intergovernmental Conference,  Back.

Note 58: Vassiliou-Moscovici Meeting,  Back.

Note 59: 4 rth EU-Cyprus Intergovernmental Conference,  Back.

Note 60: Ministerial Meeting, 21.6.99,  Back.

Note 61: News and Developments,  Back.

Note 62: See Stephen Larabee, “The EU Needs to Rethink Its Cyprus Policy”, Survival, vol. 40, no. 3, Autumn 1998, pp. 25-9.  Back.

Note 63: News and Developments,  Back.