I was moved to write on the Cyprus issue again by this article:
However, this has I think moved beyond an issue about the island itself or even Turkey’s potential EU membership (my views on this are well enough documented on this blog). This is now an issue about how the EU deals with its neighbours . Considering the size of Cyprus, it seems that many people casually forget that they are a fully fledged EU member state-in other words an integral part of one whole-the EU. What you essentially have here is an EU member state deciding to start a commercial exploration in its own waters and Turkey feels that it has a right to an opinion, and what is more a right to issue threats. The basis of their delusion is understandable, since they somehow think that the presence of Turkish Cypriots anywhere on the island of Cyprus entitles them to a say in the business of Greek Cyprus.
While indeed, the Cyprus situation is more complicated than is usual, it still is an indictment of EU foreign policy that Turkey feels strong enough relative to the Union to take up such an outrageous and belligerent stance. The issue at this stage is that Turkish side has began to forget itself and it is high time they are reminded that the political, economic and military disparity between them and the EU as a combined force is similar to the disparity between Turkey and Cyprus. It is poor form indeed from the Union leadership to continue to allow Turkey to bully one of its member states purely because they see economic benefit in appeasing Turkey. The reality of the situation is that while Turkey is a strong trading partner, commerce works both ways. Turkey cannot “withhold trade” without considerably harming its own economy and any concerns to that effect are misguided. Furthermore, while Turkey has so far been a key moderate ally in the region, it is moving more towards the Islamic side of its political spectrum (especially after the en bloc army resignations) and therefore Europe must be weary of assuming that Turkey will be a long term partner. Ideally, that trend will reverse and positive relations continue, however one must not blindly make plans without considering the political situation in the country as well as their historic aspirations. Turkish foreign policy in Cyprus smacks of imperialism and individual politicians in Turkey have on several occasions expressed views that it is Turkey’s right to interfere in the internal politics of countries which host Turkish minorities (presumably only smaller countries since I have not seen them work up the stones to aggravate Germany).
Simply put, it is time for the EU to reassess the way it does business with Turkey and neighbours generally. EU foreign policy is a mess, which is not helped by the ineptitude of its High Representative. In the Cyprus issue specifically, the best way to deal with the long term situation is to put serious effort into resolving the long term problems between Greek and Turkish Cyprus. However, this cannot be done before the EU begins to act like the Superpower it can be and starts applying real pressure on Turkey on this and other issues. It is high time policymakers in Brussels realised that Ankara is not Moscow-there is nothing to fear and until they realise this Turkey will walk all over them and Cyprus.