EU Will Offer Turkey Incentives to Push Cyprus’ Stalled Reunification

November 30, 2023

Hoping to restart stymied Cyprus unity talks, the European Commission has proposed offering Turkey – which invaded the island in 1974 – inducements to help bring the island back together.

Those would also be in return for Turkey agreeing to abide by European Union sanctions on Russia over the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan so far refusing to go along.

“We are living in an increasingly complex and challenging geopolitical context,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. “We are interested in developing a mutually beneficial partnership with Turkey, an important neighbor,” he said.

That was reported by Agence France-Presse which noted that Turkey has been an official candidate to join the bloc since 1999, a process which stalled under Erdogan’s authoritarian rule that has seen journalists jailed and muzzled.


The EU has been reluctant to confront Turkey, fearing it would incite Erdogan to unleash more refugees and migrants on the bloc who went there fleeing war, strife and economic hardship, especially from Syria and Afghanistan.

The EU has also imposed soft sanctions on Turkey for drilling for oil and gas in parts of Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) but exempted Erdogan and top officials, the penalties ignored.

Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, a hardliner, said they don’t want reunification of Cyprus, the northern third occupied for 49 years, and have demanded United Nations and world recognition for the isolated territory.

Borrell said the European Commission believed the EU’s 27 states should back a plan to offer Ankara talks on a new customs union, an easing of visa rules and closer cooperation as lures.

“We are clear what we expect Turkey to do for this to happen,” he said of what would be expected in return although the EU has talked tough before only to back down in face of Erdogan’s tough line.

“Cooperate with us on preventing circumvention of sanctions against Russia and create a climate conducive to the resumption of Cyprus settlement talks,” said Borrell of what Turkey would be told.

The EU has also been pushing Turkey to stop acting as a transit for sensitive goods – such as microchips – from the EU that could be used in weapons to attack Ukraine, Turkey having earlier bought Russian S-400 missile defense systems.

On Cyprus, the EU has opposed calls from Erdogan for a two-state solution that would bring permanent partition and wants him to allow new UN-mediated talks. The last round fell apart in 2017 over Turkey’s refusal to remove a 35,000-strong army and demand for the right to invade again.

Calls for a two-state solution have been rejected by the Greek-Cypriot government that’s a member of the EU and who want a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in line with successive UN peace plans.


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