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Cyprus PIO: Turkish Press and Other Media, 04-02-02
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From: The Republic of Cyprus Press and Information Office Server at <http://www.pio.gov.cy/>TURKISH PRESS AND OTHER MEDIA No.21/04 31.01.04 - 01-02.02.04
[A] NEWS ITEMS
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
[A] NEWS ITEMS
 Erdogan says Turkey might give back only a certain amount of the territory of Cyprus under its military occupationIstanbul NTV television (31.01.04) broadcast that Turkey´s Islamist Prime Minister, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gave a lecture at Harvard University.
Following his lecture, Erdogan replied to questions. A member of the audience asked if any land occupied by Turkish troops will be given for the solution of the Cyprus problem. He replied: "At the moment, the `TRNC´ holds 36 percent of the island. We can give away a certain amount of land. As a guarantor state, we would recommend that to the `TRNC´ and the `TRNC´ may do that. The settlement of the problem, however, is far far more important."
Asked if the Cyprus problem can be solved without giving any land, Erdogan replied: "We can give a certain amount of land, but the settlement of the problem is more important than that."
 Erdogan back from the US. He calls the occupied areas of Cyprus, a member of the EU, Turkish Republic of Northern CyprusAnkara TRT 2 Television (01.02.04) broadcast live the press conference by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport on his return from an official visit to the United States.
Following are Mr Erdogan´s statement and his replies to questions:
"I completed the visit I have been paying to the United States upon the invitation of US President George Bush since 26 January 2004. During my visit, I had a chance to conduct comprehensive and beneficial contacts with President Bush and the high-level officials of the US Administration. Together with the ministers, deputies, bureaucrats, businessmen, and a large number of press members who accompanied me on this visit, we had a full schedule in the United States.
We also had a chance to meet with Turkish and American businessmen and the representatives of the Turkish community. Our colleagues in the delegation, in turn, made the best use of this opportunity. Our businessmen held meetings with their counterparts on the basis of nongovernmental organizations, on the basis of sectors, and on an individual basis. I hope that these meetings will yield favorable results as in past visits.
As you know, we held our meeting with President Bush with the participation of Mr Powell, Mr Rumsfeld, and Dr Rice. We held a meeting with Vice President Cheney later. We had a working lunch with our respective delegations. Meanwhile, I received the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Commerce. I also met with certain congressmen who are members of the Turkish Friendship Group, the World Bank president, and the IMF executive director. I had the opportunity to address some think tanks and universities. I also met with leaders of the Jewish organizations and with Demetrios, the Greek Orthodox archbishop in the United States.
Our meeting with President Bush and the lunch he hosted after the meeting gave us the opportunity to exchange views on bilateral issues as well as on various international and regional problems on the eve of the NATO summit that will be held in Istanbul. We discussed various political and regional issues such as Cyprus, Iraq, and the Caucasus. In the same way, we had the opportunity to hear firsthand the views and approach of the United States on the new global power structuring, the greater Middle East or broadened Middle East vision, and other issues. We explained to him Turkey's approach regarding these issues.
In this context, we particularly stressed the importance we attach to the protection of Iraq's territorial integrity. Furthermore, we confirmed our determination to fight terrorism and emphasized the importance we attach to continue with the close cooperation we conduct in this field.
We saw with pleasure once again that the approaches of both countries to all these issues that closely concern them overlap to a great extent, and I underline that.
On this occasion, we invited President Bush -- who will be coming to Istanbul for the NATO summit -- to Ankara for a bilateral visit. There and then, he gave instructions to Dr Rice in this regard.
During our contacts in the United States, we also discussed the possibilities of economic and commercial cooperation. During our official talks, at our meetings with businessmen, and during my speeches in various think tanks, we had the opportunity to explain the progress achieved by the Turkish economy during the past year as well as Turkey's economic potential. Especially on the first day of our visit, we had a morning meeting with international financial organizations which was extremely productive and it was pleasing to hear that the international financial organizations had positive convictions about Turkey.
We discussed with President Bush the ways in which the NATO summit can be made more meaningful.
The contributions Turkey can make to the restructuring of Iraq, as it has done in Afghanistan, were also discussed at our meetings.
I consider our visit to the United States to be timely and functional in terms of raising our relations with that country to higher levels.
We had the opportunity to discuss economic issues. We held talks both with the US firms that invest in Turkey and with companies that can potentially make investments. Some of these talks were held personally by me, some by our ministers, and some by our businessmen. The latter issued invitations to these firms or discussed the joint steps they can take in the United States.
We observed with pleasure that the US authorities properly assess the importance of the role Turkey plays and will play in its wide area and in the world, and that they want to deepen the relations between Turkey and the United States."
In reply to a question regarding the implementation of the UN decisions and the international law over the areas of the Republic of Cyprus under Turkish occupation, Mr Erdogan said:
Some statements are misinterpreted. If, as a guarantor state, we fulfill our share, if the `TRNC´ does its share with goodwill, but if the Greek Cypriot Administration and Greece, as a guarantor state, do not do what is necessary and the talks do not resume, then Turkey and the `TRNC´ will raise the issue of the embargo which is a violation of human rights and which has been in effect for the past 40 years. We kept this issue on the agenda in our bilateral talks and in the talks between the delegations. The response we got supports our stand. We believe that if that happens, the EU and the EU member countries will approach the issue much more favourably.
Question: You said in Harvard that land may be given in return for a settlement.
Answer: This is not a new issue. I do not understand. As you know, Mr Denktas had said this a long time ago. In fact, figures were cited then. This is not a new matter. What is important is the achievement of a settlement. At the moment, the `TRNC´ lives on 36 percent of the island. The aim is to reach a settlement. Earlier, the `TRNC´ had cited figures to prove its goodwill. What is it we are after? To reach a settlement. This step was taken to reach a settlement. It is possible to do that now. The only thing is for the other side to show the same kind of goodwill.
Question: Did you get what you wanted from your visit to the United States?
Answer: I expressed my pleasure throughout my speech today. I said that our businessmen noted the positive developments. In fact, for the first time, the US Congress and Senate adopted a decision in connection with Turkey's visit. It is now in Congress records. This is also an achievement of the Turkish lobby there.
Question: What was the message of the World Bank and IMF officials?
Answer: Very positive messages. They also stressed that the developments in Turkey are positive and reiterated their appreciation of the performance in such a short time. They said that if we continue with the economic program and the financial discipline, success will come and it will not be a surprise. I believe that we will get positive results from these talks too; we received the signals from the financial organizations at our meeting.
Question: Did they ask you if Turkey needs the loan?
Answer: We have no such request or need at the moment. Actually, both in the export of bonds and in our domestic debt, the money is costing us incomparably less than in past years. If you make a comparison with international markets you see that Turkey is at a lower level. We do not have such a need.
Question: Did the US officials ask you ''
Answer: They did not make any concrete demands. As you know, we took joint steps in the past as part of our strategic partnership. We are fulfilling that anyway. On the contrary, during our meeting, we discussed what more we can do as part of our partnership. And I discussed that; the greater Middle East project, the developments in the Caucasus, the Cyprus issue, the things we can do jointly. These are our joint targets anyway".
 Durduran: Turkey has not accepted a solution in CyprusTurkish Cypriot daily KIBRIS newspaper (02.02.04) publishes an interview with Alpay Durduran, leader of the Patriotic Unity Movement (PUM), who expresses the opinion that Turkey does not yet want a solution in Cyprus.
Mr Durduran said that PUM supports the continuation of the protest rallies of the Turkish Cypriots and the resumption of the Cyprus talks as soon as possible. He also pointed out that his party wants the policy of Turkey on Cyprus to change.
Noting that Turkey does not expect a solution to be reached until May 2004, Mr Durduran added: "Turkey says that 'reaching a solution until May is very important' and that 'we shall exert efforts for a solution', but it does not say 'we shall solve it'."
Mr Durduran supported that the important date for Turkey is December 2004 and not May. "Turkey is looking at December, but it sees nothing", he noted pointing out the following: "The statements of Erdogan and Gul are foreseeing the resumption of the talks without Turkey undertaking any commitments. The officials in Turkey are not accepting anything, as they have not declared that they accept that there could not be two states in Cyprus. On the contrary they are continuing to use their old expressions such as 'realities in Cyprus, equality and guarantees'. This means that Turkey has not yet accepted a solution in Cyprus".
 Erbakan resigns from Felicity PartyTurkish Daily News (31.01.04) reports that the Felicity Party (FP) chairman Necmettin Erbakan resigned from his party, the FP administration announced that there remained no need to dismiss Erbakan who was convicted in the "missing trillion" case.
"The lost trillion case" which saw the conviction of Erbakan, concerns more than TL 1 trillion in Treasury grants to Welfare Party (WP) going missing. Erbakan was the former leader of the defunct Welfare Party.
FP executives yesterday reported to the Supreme Court of Appeals Office of the Public Prosecutor that there is no more need to dismiss Erbakan or another six party members from the party for their being sentenced in the "missing trillion" case since they have already resigned from the party.
The Supreme Court of Appeals had given 30 days for the party administration to dismiss the persons involved.
[B] COMMENTARIES, EDITORIALS AND ANALYSIS
 Mehmet Ali Birand supports that the Turkish-US strategic co-operation is changingTurkish Daily News (31.01.04) publishes the following commentary by Mehmet Ali Birand under the title: "Turkish-US strategic cooperation changing":
"U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said such words in a previous interview (on May 6, with CNN Turk) that there emerged the impression that Turkish-U.S. relations will never recover.
That interview took place after the Turkish Parliament rejected a request to allow deployment of U.S. troops on Turkish soil and Wolfowitz said clearly in the interview that Turkey should admit that it had made a mistake. He highlighted the anti-U.S. position of some figures in the Turkish Armed Forces and leveled harsh criticisms against the Turkish military. He even hinted that the United States could leave Incirlik air base, saying the United States has no desire to stay in a place where it is not wanted.
Eight months after that interview, we, me and Cengiz Candar, again sat together with Wolfowitz and discussed where Turkish-U.S. relations stand now.
Everything has changed. Turkey has seen the mistake it made and has done whatever the United States wanted. The United States has not achieved what it wanted in Iraq; it has taken up a more realistic position.
Wolfowitz showed that he did not want to look back and scratch old wounds. The language he used was quite different. He was using rhetoric that accepted that both sides had made mistakes.
Wolfowitz was crystal clear especially on the Iraq issue. His assurances are as follows: There will be no independent Kurdistan; The Iraqi federation will not be based on an ethnic or sectarian basis, it will be based on geographical borders just like Turkey wants; Kirkuk will be a city of not only Kurds but of everybody; Turkomans will have their place in the new Iraq; the PKK will have no place in northern Iraq and no matter what name it calls itself it will remain a terrorist organization for the United States. If the group does not pull out voluntarily, then they will be forced out, this is a matter of time.
These assurances by Americans please Ankara. The United States is unwilling to undertake a military operation to force the PKK out of northern Iraq's mountains. It does not want a new war in northern Iraq as it is already in trouble in other parts of Iraq. Therefore, it wants Ankara to give some time. And the Turkish government signals that it understands this. Wolfowitz maintained this stance in his interview with us.
What interested me the most in what the Deputy Secretary of Defense said and what, I believe, will provide the biggest comfort to Turkey in the long-run, was his comments about whether the strategic partnership with Turkey was in place.
Wolfowitz highlighted that the strategic partnership had changed. He said, in sum, the following:
"Our strategic partnership has changed. It is no longer as it was before. In the past, this relationship was based on a military basis. Only military relations used to be discussed. This era is now closed. Military relations of course do exist but the new strategic partnership is not based on a military field but rather on democracy and politics."
This is a new formula. It has not been put forward so far. It is true that Turkish-U.S. ties used to be ahead of everything. Turkey, in the eyes of the United States, used to be a front base. Bases in Turkey used to be seen valuable. Only the cooperation in Korea used to be commemorated and praised.
Now, "the Greater Middle East Project" of President George W. Bush has changed this attitude.
At the heart of this project lies an objective to achieve transition to democracy in Middle Eastern countries. And precisely from this perspective, Turkey is now the new favorite of the Bush administration. Turkey is the sole example of the co-existence of Islam and democracy.
Turkey, until recently, was a country that drew attention because of its geographical location. Now, its democracy is in the spotlight.
To tell the truth, it is better to be the favored country because of our democracy than to act as the gendarmerie and take risk.
Subtitle: Annan did not sacrifice de Soto
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktas did not like Alvaro de Soto from the outset. He was calculating that his job would have been much easier if he could have Alvaro's head rolling. This attitude had nothing to do with De Soto's personality. If De Soto had been dismissed from the U.N. Secretary-General's team, that would have been equivalent to the collapse of the Annan plan in a certain way. Because De Soto was perhaps the only person who knew the plan well. He was the person who originally drafted the plan and contributions from outsiders determined the details.
Turkey made a big mistake by demanding De Soto's head.
First, it failed to see that the U.N. Secretary-General would throw his support behind De Soto. Secondly, it never thought that De Soto's remaining in the U.N. team will bring a better advantage to the Turkish side. Wouldn't it be better to benefit from his knowledge, instead of attacking him?
In addition, De Soto is neither in law with Greek Cypriots nor has he a special interest for the Greeks. What bothers him is the resolution of the Cyprus dispute. He criticized the Turkish side as it continued to drag its feet. And Denktas got angry as De Soto criticized.
What happened today? Annan refused to give up on De Soto. Let's leave the struggle with De Soto and do our own business.
In the European Union, Turkey's Cyprus efforts have made a very positive impact. Especially in the EU Commission, there are people who are even shocked. Conversations with high-level officials gave me the impression that they are quite satisfied with the statements made so far but that they still have doubts:
"The Turkish side has come up with undertakings in the past as well. But whenever negotiations start, Denktas used to raise old issues and cause the negotiations to become deadlocked immediately. Now we are curious: What will Denktas do? Are these efforts part of a game or of a serious undertaking? We will understand this once the negotiations start."
That is, even those who applaud the Turkish initiative have doubts. Don't we have the same skepticism? We don't precisely know what Denktas will do either. We don't know what kind of tricks those circles who want to keep their grip on Cyprus will devise? Let's see if the government can stand firm. Or will it bow to pressures after a while?
Subtitle: US front: Don´t try to name us
Turkey insists: The U.S. Secretary of State will get involved as a "mediator" or "facilitator."
Americans, on the other hand, keep saying this: "Do not try to put tags. Don't worry, we will be working behind the scene and definitely prevent talks from going off track."
Our team, on the other hand, is insistent: "No, let's give a name to this. The word facilitator will be better..." Americans keep explaining but in vain. It is clear, indeed, what Powell will do. He will put pressure on both sides, and more importantly, he will conduct the final bargaining.
Leaving aside this tag bargaining, Turkey got what it wanted in general. Perhaps it could have been better if it had gotten more. For instance, everybody would be very happy if Bush had kissed Erdogan on the cheek (!) and told him what great deeds he had accomplished. But let's not forget that Washington does not want to win enmity of Greece and Greek Cyprus. Therefore, it is reluctant to have a high-profile involvement."
 Columnist in RADIKAL discloses Bush´s letter to President Papadopoulos. He supports that the US are exerting pressure on Greece and Cyprus. Britain seems to have assumed the responsibility of obstructing Greece´s possible efforts in the EUIstanbul RADIKAL newspaper (30.01.04) publishes the following commentary by Murat Yetkin under the title: "In Geneva on 8 February" :
"The White House is issuing a message to the Greek Cypriots, to the United Nations, and the EU to the effect that "the Turks have passed the ball and that it is time for the Greek Cypriots to take action." According to the behind the scenes in Washington, the United States wants the negotiations to commence on 9 February.
The letter undersigned by US President George Bush and addressed to Greek Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos begins with the following words: "Today I held a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan." Briefly, Bush notes that Turkey is making sincere efforts in order to ensure that a solution is found to the Cyprus issue prior to 1 May 2004, that the new Turkish Cypriot Administration has also promised to make similar efforts, and that it is time for the Greek Cypriot side to take action for reaching an agreement. Certain people note that this development proves that in Washington the US side has increased the dosage of the pressure, which had already been intensified recently, on the Greek and the Greek Cypriot side in Washington. US sources draw attention to the fact that the letter, the drafts of which they have been preparing for a while, was given its final shape after the meeting held between Erdogan and Bush.
The detailed and the high-level contacts held by Foreign Ministry Under Secretary Ugur Ziyal and Faruk Logoglu, Turkish ambassador to the United States, at the White House prior to the Erdogan-Bush meeting have certainly been effective in achieving this result.
After receiving instructions from President Bush "to take care of the issue," US Secretary of State Colin Powel immediately took action yesterday. He held a meeting with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul in order to understand Turkey's views with regard to the issue in further detail. During this meeting, discussions were held on Turkey's views that focus on political sovereignty, maps, and guarantees in Cyprus. Furthermore, the sides talked about ensuring an agreement on the "component states" part of the plan -- in other words, the nucleus of the plan -- even if an agreement is not reached on the entire Annan plan by 1 May 2004. Powell, who noted during the meeting that he will continue to encourage both sides to find a solution, later contacted UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Talking about the support extended by US President Bush to Turkey's initiative, Powell asked for Annan's support. The United States is issuing direct messages to the Greek Cypriot side and indirect messages to the United Nations and the EU to the effect that "the Turks have passed the ball and it is the Greek Cypriots' turn to take action." Behind the scenes, the diplomatic circles in Washington are noting that the United States wants to ensure that the negotiations on Cyprus commence in Geneva on 9 February.
Subtitle: The Greek Cypriots' Black Friday
Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot side had been cornered before the Greek Cypriot side and the EU. Nonetheless, Turkey and Turkish Cypriot side took action within a very short time and they began to force the opposite side to reach an agreement. Three dates have been very important in this regard. The first date is 14 December, when elections were held in northern Cyprus. Above all, the fact that the new `TRNC´ government that was established by Mehmet Ali Talat and Serdar Denktas as a result of these elections announced that it is in favor of a solution and an agreement changed the balances in Ankara. As a matter of fact, the announcement regarding the establishment of the new `TRNC government´ was possible only after it was stated that there were signs of conciliation during the Cyprus summit that was held at the Cankaya Presidential Mansion on 8 January. On this second important date, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer insisted that "the Turkish side should not be the side that runs away from the table." This was certainly very effective. The third date is 23 January, when the National Security Council [NSC] convened. The speculations about the fact that the communiqué issued on 8 January did not include the word "Annan" came to end with this meeting. It has gradually been understood that this result was achieved by Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who adopted an active stand in favor of a solution in Cyprus during the meeting and by President Sezer who supported Gul and who ensured that the word "Annan" is included in the final communiqué. A US diplomat who holds a key office interpreted this as follows yesterday: "Most probably 23 January was the Greek Cypriots' 'black Friday.' They were very sure that Turkey would continue to adopt an intransigent stand and that they would become EU members on 1 May 2004 -- in the name of the Turkish Cypriots as well -- without actually giving any signs of intransigence. They mostly trusted the fact that the NSC would not be in favor of a solution. They were caught unprepared."
Despite the acceleration in the Cyprus process, everything is not over yet. Similar to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the US Department of State is concerned that Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou might leave behind the "smiling face" that he has been showing and that he might launch a counterattack. There is a lobby in Athens that is similar to the Cyprus lobby in Ankara that opposes change. Furthermore, given that Simitis announced that he will resign from the leadership of PASOK [Panhellenic Socialist Movement], Papandreou will try to prove himself in these elections. The first action that Greece is expected to take is to oppose the idea of immediately commencing negotiations under the supervision of Kofi Annan (and preferably on 7 February) using the elections that will be held on 7 March as a pretext. As for the second action, Athens is expected to demand new arrangements that run counter to the interests of the Turkish Cypriots in the Annan plan by using the EU Aquis as a pretext. For example, Athens may note that if both sides are given the right to veto the decisions, this will run counter to the EU principle pertaining to the "establishment of fast and effective decision making mechanism." Or it may demand new arrangements regarding property.
Nonetheless, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has been conducting a long-lasting study regarding the possible actions that may be taken by Greece.
Evidently, it has been decided to cooperate with Britain, the United States´ strategic ally, in the face of such probabilities. Britain, which is one of the guarantor countries in Cyprus, seems to have assumed the responsibility for obstructing Greece's possible efforts -- if any -- to prevent an agreement in the EU. A Turkish diplomat said: "The British have greatly contributed to a solution by dismissing Lord Hanney, anyway."
Meanwhile, Washington is also focusing on the possibility that Papandreou who is considered a successful example of new generation politicians might not try to prevent an agreement despite the demands of the Cyprus lobby at the Greek Foreign Ministry."
 Sami Cohen supports that Turkey has achieved what it expected from Washington on the Cyprus problemIstanbul MILLIYET newspaper (30.01.04) publishes the following commentary by Sami Kohen under the title: "Have we got what we wanted?":
"Has Turkey got what it wanted? That is the question that is asked every time one of Turkey's leading officials visits the United States. So, the answer to the question will be debated for a long time in the light of the outcome of the talks President Bush had with Prime Minister Erdogan in Washington. Prime Minister Erdogan and the officials who are accompanying him have clearly said: "Yes, we have achieved our objective." Nevertheless, the opposition's assessment has been different. In other words, the opposition believes that Turkey has not only failed to get what it expected, but also, as Republican People's Party (RPP) leader Deniz Baykal said, "it has made historic mistakes."
As we mentioned earlier, the scenario we observed at the end of Erdogan's meeting with President Bush was similar to those we observed at the end of the visits that were realized in the past. Considering the statements made by the Turkish and US officials, there is no reason to believe that the visit has been unsuccessful. Turkey got the results it expected on two issues, Cyprus and Iraq. However, unless we are informed on the details of what was discussed behind closed doors (or on the depth of the talks that were held on the two issues), making a healthy assessment will be impossible. The matter might come to light during the next few days. That will create an opportunity for everyone to establish whether or not the talks in Washington were in line with Turkey's expectations.
I believe that reaching an agreement on the general framework of the Cyprus problem, which was one of the two main issues in the talks, was not difficult. The Bush administration supported Turkey's initiative to have the talks on Cyprus resumed and decided to respond to Prime Minister Erdogan's call for a more active US role in the effort that is made to solve the problem. In fact, US Secretary of State Colin Powell quickly moved, on the one hand, to launch an initiative with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and, on the other, convey the necessary messages to the Greek and Greek Cypriot side.
The Turkish diplomats wanting to see the United States, which is the only superpower in the world, siding with Turkey in its new initiative on the Cyprus problem is very normal. Prime Minister Erdogan's visit was an opportunity for them to secure Washington's support. In the end, a disclosure was made to the effect that the Bush administration was "encouraged" by Ankara's initiative and that it agreed to assume a role, which can be described as "facilitator" (not "mediator"). Considering that, it can be said that the Turkish side has achieved what it expected from the talks in Washington.
But, the matter did not end at that point. Many questions come to mind: Is US involvement good or bad? Considering the current election year in the United States, to what extent will President Bush and his team be able to put pressure on Greece and the Greek Cypriots? To what extent would the UN Secretary-General and his aides want the United States to intervene or to what extent would they heed Washington's recommendations? What is more important is whether or not the United States deciding to adopt a determining role would create the risk of undesirable impositions and pressure on the Turkish side in the future.
Considering and debating all that will be useful."
 A Turkish professor´s view of the latest mobility in Turkey regarding CyprusUnder the title: "An EU Camp David for Cyprus" Turkish Daily News (31.01.04) publishes the following analysis by Dr. Cengiz Aktar, Galatasaray University Academic:
"For the past few days, people have been talking about an agreement similar to Camp David that put an end to the war in Yugoslavia in 1995 for the Cyprus issue. This suggestion might be a possible solution to the country's problems concerning Cyprus. However, the key to conference similar to Camp David to solve the Cyprus issue is Turkey starting European Union membership accession negotiations on January 3, 2005. No matter what anyone says, Turkey will solve the Cyprus issue in order to start accession negotiations with the EU. The issue of uniting Cyprus arose with Turkey's EU membership, and if Turkey's and Cyprus's membership were not on the cards, we would hardy find a single person desiring a solution.
All nations and institutions seem to have implicitly accepted the fact that there is a direct relationship between the start of the accession process and a permanent solution on Cyprus. The EU Commission November 2003 Progress report noted that continued division of the island would hurt Turkey's membership chances, while the EU Council that a solution on the island would improve Turkey's chances. At its first European meetings after the November 3, 2002 national elections, the government noted this relation. That's why, the conference, its location, the nationality of the mediator or the mediators and their political clout are as important as the objectives. Signs show that this Camp David can only take place under the auspices of the EU, while the prime minister's advisors think pushing for U.S. mediation could end in making great mistakes.
Two major countries that will have the last say on the start of Turkey's membership negotiations, France and Germany, are yet to formulate their stance. While, signs coming out of Germany are very positive, the most France seems to offer Turkey is a special status. Everybody is in agreement that far-left and far-right (Jean-Marie Le Pen's National Front) will make great advances in the local elections on March 21. These two extremes are against Turkey's membership, due to different reasons. The majority in the two conservative parties supporting the government in Parliament are also against Turkey's membership. All these are trying to influence President Jacques Chirac, who will take the final decision, through the media. Additionally, those parties that are suspicious of a further enlarged Europe will make great advances in the European Parliament (EP) elections on June 13, not only in France, but in all 25 member countries. The voters, who are mostly anti-expansion, will voice their opposition to governments that constantly tighten funds going to social programs in the EP elections. This political tension does not make Turkey's work easier.
Any minor deficiency in complying with the Copenhagen Criteria can be used in December to delay the process even further. Even if there are no deficiencies, we don't have a guarantee that France will approve Turkey's accession decision. Well, it could be asked that isn't an unsolved Cyprus issue in the EU's interest, which is so unwilling to give Turkey a date to start negotiations? The answer to this question lies with the fact that how important a problem the EU sees the admission of a divided island and its effect on its relations with Turkey.
The admission of a divided island will definitely affect Turkey's relations with the EU, especially with Greece. If this is not a fact neither will the Cyprus issue be solved, nor will Turkey's accession negotiations start.
The second unknown is whether the EU will initiate the negotiations that might lead to a solution on Cyprus. This is Turkey's main negotiation stance. If we look at the picture from Turkey's perspective, the situation looks cloudy, despite the rosy picture painted. Right now, Ankara is playing the game alone. The U.S may have some idea about what Turkey is working on concerning a possible solution on the island, but the main parties, Greece, Greek Cypriots and the EU are without a clue. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, by saying, "Let's start the negotiations from a narrower standpoint, compared to the Annan plan" is admitting that it is impossible to fully examine the complicated Annan plan by May 1.
All officials are saying that Turkey is united on this issue. However, no one knows what Turkey agrees on. Some say that the Annan plan will only be a reference point. Some ask for amendments to be made in the plan. Others don't even mention it. There are people who say that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan should have the final say in points of contention. There are also some who say that a referendum before a full agreement is reached would be meaningless, while others are asking for a referendum on the issues agreed. These conflicting statements show that despite the claims to the contrary, there is no single unanimous stance in Turkey. It seems like the PM is saying what the White House wants to hear. To think that the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr Rauf Denktas's supporters in the military and bureaucratic hierarchy have changed their opinions overnight after a couple of meetings in Ankara is tantamount to ignoring the realities of Turkey.
Cyprus is also formulating its negotiation policy through the link between a solution and EU membership. Today, those who don't want Turkey's membership to the EU are playing their last cards in Cyprus by trying to protect the status quo on the island. The government, even with its most sincere efforts, cannot unite all the competing forces at the top of the state hierarchy around its policy. At this juncture, we need outside pressure. However, this pressure needs to be strong enough to acquire the support of the people in order to control the forces that support the status quo. This pressure needs to have a perspective that will prevent these forces from coming out after the conference and saying, "You gave away Cyprus, but did not get anything in return." The pressure can be the U.S., but can it provide the necessary perspective?
Subtitle: U.S. support will not help. It will be damaging.
The U.S., as a result of its invasion of Iraq, experienced a significant loss of prestige around the world. In order to regain its lost prestige, it is trying to play a constructive role in solving some of the most chronic political and military problems around the world. We can describe its efforts to find a solution to the decades-long civil war between the Christian south of Sudan and the Islamic government in Khartoum, its help in trying to formulate a peace process for the constantly escalating problems between India and Pakistan and its attempts to solve many other problems from this perspective. Even its help in the recent months in trying to solve the Cyprus issue can be viewed in this context. However, while we think about the U.S. help concerning the issue, it should not be forgotten that the real objective is the start of Turkey's membership negotiations to the EU. Actually, The U.S. has nothing to offer besides offering military support to Turkey's Armed Services in return for a solution on the island. If there is a plan for getting U.S. support for Turkey's EU membership in exchange for a solution on Cyprus, as some are suggesting, it should be known that this would lead to great disappointment.
The U.S. has been pressuring the EU to admit Turkey since 1996. This pressure resulted in zero at the Luxemburg Summit in December 1997. While the pressure applied by the U.S. gave a result in December 1999, Helsinki, we should not forget that the final decision will be taken by Europe. Pressure at the December 2002, Copenhagen Summit backfired. A U.S. government, which invaded Iraq, despite opposition from Europe and that might be replaced by a new administration at the end of the year, does not have the luxury to put pressure on the EU on such a sensitive subject as Turkey's membership.
Thus, everything logical points toward a Camp David style conference that will bring together all the interested parties and be hosted by the European Union. This procedure would hold the link between a solution and the EU constantly at the forefront, it would protect the government domestically from those, who are trying to obstruct its efforts, and would be a major boost to Turkey's membership chances. Moreover, a solution on Cyprus found this way will carry the stamp of the EU and might result in the acceleration of the political unification process. This conference would satisfy Greece, which constantly calls on the EU to be involved on the island. The EU's peaceful approach in solving problems will receive a major boost and might form an example for other problems, such as Iran's nuclear program. If this procedure also brings Turkey closer to membership, which is the main objective, the EU will enter 2005 with a new found perspective, compared to the miserable way it entered 2004.
Subtitle: Holland should host the EU's Camp David
If we look at the issue from today's perspective and examine all the parameters, it will be realized that the conference should not be hosted by a neutral body, but a host with significant political clout. That's why Greece's request for the United Nations to continue with its mediation is contradictory. The U.N., with its experience and knowledge, should definitely participate in the conference. However, the weight should be carried by the EU, which had always handed the problem over to the U.N. From this perspective, Holland, which will be the new term president of the EU as of July 1, 2004 is the most appropriate conference host. In this respect, Holland's former prime minister and Social Democrat Wim Kok is the best person to chair the conference. Turkey will also need Holland's mediation during the EU summit at the end of the year. One of the EU's founding members Holland, under whose presidency Maastricht and Amsterdam treaties were passed, is very experienced in mediation. The Dutch have always been close to the U.S., while being very pro-Europe. Another advantage of Holland is that its Foreign Minister Ben Bot realizes how important Turkey's membership to the EU is.
Among the many things Turkey, its government and its civil society have to do in the next ten months, is to find a solution on Cyprus without a doubt. We definitely need to take advantage of this chance."