Turkey, Europe and the Cyprus ‘Ticking Bomb’

Along the same lines of last week’s post regarding Turkey’s shifting foreign policy priorities, Yigal Schleifer (whose blog Istanbul Calling is must reading if you have an interest in Turkey), flags a paper regarding Turkey-EU relations. Essentially, to assuage doubts about his — and Turkey’s — Western-friendly bona fides, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reaffirmed Turkey and Europe’s mutual engagement, putting it in the context of a shared history that dates back to the 11th century. Seriously. The dude’s old school.

Clicking through to the paper itself (.pdf), I was not surprised to see it identify Cyprus as the “ticking bomb” in Turkey-EU relations, since Gareth Jenkins made the same observation in his WPR feature article on the Cyprus conflict. There are other sticking points, of course, but come December, Ankara either has to allow Greek Cypriot boats and planes access to its waters, ports and airspace (as part of an EU-wide agreement), or risk further repercussions in terms of its EU accession negotiations. And Ankara is unlikely to do so without some EU concessions towards Turkish Cyprus.

If you’re like me, you’ll wonder, Why? How can such a strategically peripheral conflict become so intractable that it shifts the balance of regional relations, despite the intentions of nearly everyone (give or take France and Germany) to the contrary? Well, read Jenkins’ article and you’ll understand better.

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