An overwhelmed European Union is dealing with so many problems it’s not equipped to help bring unity to a divided Cyprus, a Turkish academic lecturer said.
Mustafa Turkes, lecturer in International Affairs at the Middle Eastern Technical University in Ankara, told Sputnik Turkiye, a division of a Russia news site, that there are too many conflicts for the EU to deal with, including the ongoing refugee crisis that has mostly hit a besieged Turkey.
He said the EU’s newfound interest in a political settlement for Cyprus stems from Brussels’ desire to strengthen its political interests at the same time a raft of diplomats are trying to find a solution to a dilemma that’s gone on since an unlawful Turkish invasion in 1974.
On Jan. 9, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will meet in Geneva to try again after earlier negotiations at a Swiss resort broke down over the question of how much property and territory stolen by Turks should be returned.
The plans call for them to talk for three days and then bring in the guarantors of security, the UK, Turkey and Greece, to settle whether Turkey can keep its 35,000-strong army on the island as part of any deal.
The EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has made a political agreement to end the division of Cyprus a priority of her term of office, and during a visit to Nicosia in October she stressed the benefits of ending the deadlock, Sputnik said.
“This will be not only a turning point, a historic page for the island; this will be an extremely important step for the entire region … Our role as the EU is to accompany the leaders and their determination in a way that can be beneficial for all Cypriots to live in a united European Cyprus,” she said.
Cyprus is a member of the EU but the northern third unlawfully occupied by Turkey – and recognized only by Turkey – is not and has languished economically.
Obviously, the best guarantee for security of any country in the world is a well-functioning state, and particularly for any member of the EU is being a member of the EU itself. As you understand well, we are entering the last crucial phase of the negotiations,” Mogherini said.
EU Parliament President Martin Schulz has also intensified efforts to unite the island, and met with Akinci in Brussels last week.
Turkes said that the renewed effort from the EU and its US ally results from a desire to strengthen their presence in a strategically important region.
“If you ask how hegemony is formed in the Mediterranean basin, the answer is the presence of four islands there. Whoever controls the four major islands is dominant. Therefore, no one wants to leave this island. The main reason that it is important for the EU, is that it gives an opportunity to increase its presence in the region.”
“When Syria shot down a Turkish plane (in 2012), Turkey couldn’t find out why and how it was shot down but the United Kingdom had this information thanks to radar stationed on the island. We see that Cyprus has regained its strategic importance,” Turkes said.