Cyprus Backs Turkish For EU

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades (R), and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, walk at a main shopping street on the occupied side of the island. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

In an olive branch to Ankara, Cyprus has asked the European Union to recognize Turkish as an official language in a bid for the island’s reunification.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades made the request through the EU’s rotating Presidency, now held by The Netherlands, EUobserver reported.

“I am writing to inform you of my government’s decision to actively seek the introduction of the Turkish language as an official language of the European Union,” said Anastasiades, who has shown a willingness to make concessions to Turkey and his counterpart on Cyprus, Mustafa Akinci.

“In view of the possibility of reaching a settlement on the Cyprus problem, without prejudice to whether this is actually achieved … the time has come to launch preparations to enable the Union to start using Turkish as an official EU language upon reunification,” he said.

He noted that Cyprus already filed a request during its EU entry talks in 2002 but then “was advised by the (EU) institutions not to insist, taking into account the limited practical purpose of such a development … as well as the considerable cost,” Anastasiades’ letter said.

A Dutch spokesman told EUobserver that The Hague “will study its content and see what the next steps should be.”

He added that: “Unanimity is needed to adjust the [EU] language regime.”

A senior Turkish official told EUobserver that the Cypriot decision is “a very important, very positive gesture” for the Cyprus peace talks and for EU-Turkish ties more broadly.