Cyprus Demands Recognition by Turkey to Unblock EU Accession

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said Tuesday that Cyprus would block Turkey’s accession to the European Union if Ankara does not fulfill its agreed obligations and recognize Cyprus as a state.

Speaking Tuesday in Nicosia after talks with visiting EU Council President Donald Tusk, Anastasiades said that supporting Turkey’s bid at this time would also undermine ongoing talks for reunifying the ethnically divided island of Cyprus.

“Most recently, on 29 November 2015, the Turkish Prime Minister (Ahmet Davutoglu) reiterated Turkey’s position that they do not recognize the Republic of Cyprus,” said Anastasiades. “To this end, it must be understood by our EU partners that possible acceptance of the Turkish demands, without implementation of Turkey’s long-pending obligations, would in the essence constitute, with my own consent, acceptance that the Republic of Cyprus is indeed ‘defunct’.”

Tusk said that Turkey’s accession bid would succeed only if all 28 EU member states reach a consensus.

“When it comes to accession, I want to make it clear that the rules have not changed,” Tusk said. “The same strict conditionality applies and, moving forward, will still require the agreement of all 28.”

Cyprus insists that Turkey must first fulfill its longstanding demands for recognition, and open up trade ties, ports and airports.

Turkey has demanded that Cyprus withdraw its veto on five of 35 policy requirements for its EU accession talks as a condition for reaching a deal with the European Union to take back thousands of migrants.

Tusk said that current dynamics offer an opportunity to re-energize relations between the EU and Turkey from which all members would benefit, including Cyprus.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the northern part of the island in response to a military coup that was backed by the Greek government.