Nicosia.- President Tassos Papadopoulos briefed on Saturday the National Council on the EU’s response to Ankara’s non-recognition of Cyprus, and his contacts in New York during the UN General Assembly.
According to Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides, the meeting lasted for four hours, and there had been “some disagreements” among political parties over the handling of EU consultations. He did not elaborate, but opposition parties have been vociferous over the past few days on the issue.
“The President briefed the Council over the long and difficult negotiations that led to the counter-declaration of the EU and the negotiating framework for Turkey”, said Chrysostomides. He also said Papadopoulos had analysed in detail the provisions of the documents as they related to the Cyprus problem.
The final EU counter-declaration, which was approved on Wednesday after weeks of haggling, contained two significant changes for the Greek Cypriot side.
Earlier contested versions of the draft had linked recognition by Turkey to accession but the approved text links it to the “accession process”.
The second difference, relating to EU support for UN efforts towards achieving a comprehensive settlement, was changed to include “in line with relevant UNSCRs (UN Security Council Resolutions) and the principles on which the EU is founded.”
The government said it was satisfied with the final text but opposition parties have questioned how the declaration brings a Cyprus solution any nearer.
The EU issued the counter-statement as a response to Turkey’s July 29 declaration stating that Ankara’s signature on the protocol extending the EU customs union to the ten new
DISY SLAMS GOVERNMENT
Opposition DISY has slammed the government for its ineffectual foreign policy, which it says does nothing to facilitate efforts for a settlement on the Cyprus problem.
The critique came in the wake of the EU’s response on Wednesday to Turkey’s refusal to recognise the Republic despite entering into a customs union agreement with all the bloc’s member states. The wording of the EU’s counter-declaration had been the subject of intense horse-trading over the past two months, culminating in a compromise text this week, just days before Ankara is to begin accession talks with the bloc.
EU envoys on Wednesday agreed that Ankara must eventually recognise Cyprus and said the union would review progress on this in 2006. The statement was accompanied by the finalising of Turkey’s negotiating mandate, or the set of ground-rules the candidate country must fulfill.
Nicosia’s first reaction showed satisfaction, with President Tassos Papadopoulos saying that the main targets of the Greek Cypriot side had been attained. The government argues that the EU’s statement carries political weight and that this entails sanctions – and consequently pressure – on Turkey to normalise its relations with the Republic.
But the main opposition party immediately dismissed the upbeat reaction as a PR stunt for domestic consumption, sparking a new row with the administration. DISY claims the counter-declaration has no real legal basis and that Cyprus received no concrete trade-offs.
“When you lower the bar to the minimum of your expectations, and then get this, you can’t act all triumphant later,” remarked DISY boss Nicos Anastassiades.
The counter-declaration made no specific references to the Cyprus problem, he added, saying the document agreed did not set a timeline on Turkey to open its ports to Cypriot ships.
For over a year, one of the major tenets of the government’s foreign policy has been to use EU membership as a lever to extract as many concessions as possible from Turkey. But DISY has attacked the handling of this policy, dismissing it as a wild goose chase and a futile hunt for wording of texts that lack practical significance.
“Mr Anastassiades is distorting the facts and resorting to populism once again,” countered Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides.
“What would DISY have us do? Veto Turkey’s accession?” he wondered.
And to back up his argument, Chrysostomides pointed to the regret expressed at the counter-declaration by Turkey and the breakaway regime in the north.
“Look at their rabid reaction,” he said. “That proves the counter-declaration is important.”
On Thursday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry released a statement protesting that the EU’s declaration was “one-sided and has a political aspect which could weaken UN efforts to secure a settlement for Cyprus. It is not possible for us to share this approach.
“We regret the publication of this counter-declaration. It has a style which does not accord well with the traditional spirit of cooperation that has existed between Turkey and the EU over a period of more than 40 years,” the ministry’s statement read.