My Foreign Office colleague, Minister of State Baroness Symons, said at the time: “The Turkish Cypriots can reasonably ask that they should not be the victims of this setback, and yet it is they who are left in limbo outside the European Union.But what is now needed, surely, is to remove all discrimination against people who are, after all, citizens of the European Union and to prepare the Turkish Cypriots and their legislation and administrative practices for eventual European membership.” However, in limbo is exactly where the Turkish Cypriots have been left.Here’s why: Turkey invaded Cyprus in late July 1974.
If the quid pro quohad been EU membership, a deal in my view would have been agreed.
But absent that, the reality is that however well intentioned, no Greek-Cypriot leader will ever be able to get their electorate behind a deal.
A reduction in Turkish troop numbers have been part of these negotiations.
One of the most important was the 2004 “Annan” plan, painstakingly negotiated by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his special representative for Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, to provide a federal, “bizonal” and “bicommunal” constitution.
It can be argued, as many have done, that the Turks overreacted by the number of troops they have stationed on the island ever since.
But it’s hard to argue that the Turkish government should simply have sat on their hands.
For any negotiation of this kind to succeed, both sides have to be able to gain something.
But, from the Greek Cypriot point of view, conceding political equality with the Turkish Cypriots means giving power away.
In one of its worst strategic decisions ever, the European Union (sadly, with UK acquiescence) had agreed that Cyprus should join the EU on , whether agreement had been reached with the Turkish Cypriots or not.