Experts: Turkey-EU relations may be ruined

Azerbaijan, Baku, July 20 / Trend A. Tagiyeva /

The Cyprus issue, ever a stumbling block in the negotiation process between Turkey and the EU, will remain a primary issue and continue to threaten the future of Turkish-EU relations, experts said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara will completely freeze its relations with the EU while chairing the organization of the Republic of Cyprus. The Turkish media reported that Erdogan's statement was made on the eve of his visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Erdogan's statements were quite sharp this time. The result of these statements will affect the negotiations between Turkey and the EU over Turkey's membership in this organization, the analyst at the European Stability Initiative's (ESI) Istanbul office, Ekrem Eddy Guzeldere said.

"Turkey's position on this issue is always unchangeable", Guzeldere told Trend over phone from Istanbul. "But this time, Ankara acted very sharply."

The associate professor of political sciences at Free University in Berlin Gulistan Gurbey agrees with Guzeldere. She thinks that Erdogan's statements can be understood by the EU as "threats" or "confrontation". This could affect Turkey's relations with the EU.
"One cannot expect a positive response from the EU after such statements", Gurbey told Trend by e-mail from Berlin.

If the Cyprus problem is not resolved by July 2012 during the six-month temporary EU presidency by the Republic of Cyprus, relations with the EU will be completely frozen, leading Turkish newspapers "Hurriyet" and "Milliyet" quoted Erdogan as saying.

"We will sit still and pay attention for the next six months", Erdogan said. "All relations with the EU will be frozen. We will not talk with a country which we do not recognize."
The Turkish prime minister stands against EU intervention in the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

Gurbey said that Erdogan's statement indicates that Turkey, which has always supported past negotiations pertaining to the question of Cyprus, now changes its policy in this direction.

Guzeldere said that Ankara's sharp position on this issue can support the Cyprus issue. The Republic of Cyprus will get the temporary chairmanship in the EU for six months until July 2012. During that time, the EU may reconsider its relations with Turkey. Perhaps it will even find a solution to the Cyprus problem.

"There is a year in reserve", Guzeldere said. "The EU will take certain actions on the issue of Turkey's membership in the organization."

Turkey will freeze its attitude toward the EU, but it will not lead to a complete rupture of relations.

"The break-up in relations is disadvantageous to Turkey and the EU", the analyst said.
In 1974, Turkish military forces entered Cyprus to act as security guarantors of the Turkish population on the island. After that, the island was divided into Greek and Turkish parts.

Thanks to Greece, the Greek Republic of Cyprus situated along the south of the island, was recognized by the international community. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognized only by Turkey.

A longstanding problem with Cyprus is a stumbling block in the negotiations between Turkey and the EU, which began in 2005. The negotiations were launched on 35 points of the integration dossier. At present, only 13 points are being maintained. Dialogue on the other 18 positions has been frozen for political reasons, as well as due to Ankara's position on the settlement issue in Cyprus.

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