Turkey

I read a few minutes ago that excellent article written by Mustafa Kutlay.

Well I read a few interviews and articles about Andrew Duff and I believe that he is a “light” pro-Turkey politician. And that is an euphemism.

Here is the article:

A long period of silence has been broken in Turkish-European Union relations with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s official visit to northern Cyprus. Before leaving for Cyprus, in an unusually clear tone, Erdoğan declared that “during the Greek Cypriot presidency, relations with the EU will freeze.” The prime minister made an urgent call for the EU to clarify its position on the Cyprus question and Turkish-EU relations.

Turkish-EU relations plunged into a de facto stalemate in 2006 and for about one year, no single chapter has been opened to negotiation. The negotiation process remains mired in a deadlock due to the “veto triangle.” The first veto comes from the European Council. The council froze eight chapters and announced that it would not opens the rest until Turkey opens its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot sea and air traffic. The second veto comes from France and French politicians who are blocking five chapters on concerns that opening them “may open Turkey’s membership path.” The last player in the veto triangle is the Greek Cyprus, which threatens to block a further six chapters.

Aware of this fact, Erdoğan called on European leaders to accelerate peace talks in Cyprus and insisted on a timetable to solve the question. Regardless, Erdoğan knows very well that the peace talks on the island may continue infinitely. In fact, the status quo does not disturb the Greek Cypriots because the EU recognizes them as the “legal representative of the island.” It is Erdoğan and the Turkish side demanding a solution to the Cyprus question, by forcing EU leaders to raise their voices in favor of a solution by the time the Greek Cypriot term in the presidency begins in mid-2012. So the Turkish side is quite clear and asks the EU this simple question: “Are you with me in solving the Cyprus question or do you plan to hide behind the ‘Cyprus question’ to hold Turkey-EU relations in limbo?”

Now the ball is in the EU’s court. If EU leaders favor a solution to the Cyprus question, their “window of opportunity” is open. This is a very suitable juncture. Otherwise, it is time for the EU to lay all its cards on the table without playing on the crude “axis shift” discussions.

On the contrary, Mr. Duff.

Some Europeans seem to insist on circumventing reality by playing on Erdoğan’s words. One discouraging speech in particular was given recently by Liberal Democrat European MP Andrew Duff. He argued that “not only does the Turkish government cling to outmoded hostile rhetoric but it raises an entirely new obstacle to improving relations with the EU.” Accordingly, Duff believes Erdoğan “sounds increasingly like the worst of the ultra-Kemalists. By offering Turkey only the crude choice between ‘the EU or Cyprus,’ he is likely to end up with neither.”

One should remind Mr. Duff that it is the Turkish side that supported the Annan Plan in 2004 and has sincerely followed a constructive policy toward the Cyprus question thus far. Greek Cypriots, on the other hand, was criticized even by European technocrats at the time. Commissioner Gunter Verheugen appeared in the European Parliament and said “I feel personally cheated by the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.” Moreover, the promises made by the EU to end the isolation of Turkish Cypriots were not materialized. Many other European leaders, like Jack Straw, accepted that it was a mistake to accept Greek Cypriots as members before the question was solved.

Turkey’s recent proclamation regarding Cyprus confused some of Turkey’s European friends. Rather than sounding like “ultra-Kemalists,” Turkey is making a straightforward call for improving Turkey-EU relations and tackling the Cyprus question. In light of the EU’s contradictory Cyprus policy, one must ask whether or not the EU has the capacity to think beyond short-sighted dichotomies in Turkey-EU relations. The real question still remains to be answered by our European friends, including Andrew Duff: Does the EU have the strategic vision to revitalize Turkey-EU relations on an equal and just footing? Or do the people who speak about the lack of visionary leadership in Europe have a point?

Mustafa Kutlay is a researcher on European Union-Turkey relations at the International Strategic Research Organization, or USAK. He can be reached at mustafakutlay @ gmail.com

And I would like to suggest two comments about that article suggested by the Hürriyet Daily News.

Sevil Akgün wrote:

By holding Turkey-EU relations hostage to Greek Cypriots the EU is the one who is acting with hostility and outdated rhetoric. It is time for the EU and Greek Cypriots to stop holding EU-Turkey relations hostage if they are sincere which they are not

Chris Green Worcester/Kyrenia wrote:

Do not concern yourselves with the utterings of a British Liberal Democrat: These are a species destined to return to political irrelevance by 2015 when thankfully the UK will revert to ‘Dark Blue’ Right Wing politics. In the meantime UK/Turk deal!

Yours sincerely,

Cem

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