The [EU;s] relationship with Ankara is to be all but improved during Cyprus’ presidency, a paper prepared by Prague based Institute of International Relations assesses in the introductory remarks of a study on “World Politics: Scenarios 2012–2013”. The paper concludes that: “EU leaders should indicate to the Cyprus presidency that the second half of 2012 is not a good time for debating the Cyprus conflict at EU fora” and says “EU member states should thus pursue a regular, institutionalized and open dialogue with Turkey not only on the bilateral level, but mainly on the level of the EU.”
The report includes a chapter signed by Lucia Najšlová and Tomáš Weiss on “EU and Turkey: The Role of Cyprus Presidency”. The Institute is linked to the Czech Foreign Ministry.
“Due to the long term conflict betweenTurkeyandCyprus, the Presidency may become a challenge for two key EU interests: the EU-Turkey accession negotiations and the cooperation withTurkeyin the Middle East andNorth Africa(MENA),” it says. In this matter, there are two particular aspects that are important for the European Union and its foreign policy priorities: a) the EU-NATO cooperation, which is currently impeded by theCyprusconflict; b) the political stability (preferably democratic) and security in theEastern Mediterranean. Good relations withTurkeyare essential to achieve both priorities.”
The report recognises that “in the Presidency priorities that have been published so far, neither Turkey nor the conflict is mentioned” and points out that “EU membership is not a sufficient incentive for Turkey to compromise on the Cyprus issue.”
Noting the various crises the EU faces in this period, including the financial crises, it says “therefore, we do not expect the Turkey or the Cyprus issue to be on the priority agenda of European policy- makers, with the exception of nationalist movements.”
“This lack of prioritization applies not only to the member states, but also European institutions. At the same time it may be assumed that those which are responsible for enlargement and external affairs agenda (notably the Commission’s DG ENLARG and EEAS) will continue in their work under the existing political constraints.”
The writers of the report outline a few scenarios:
+ Zero Problems. The Republic of Cyprus will be interested in presenting itself in the EU as a mature and responsible member state, and therefore it will prioritize themes that are important for Europe as a whole, especially the economic crisis. With its goal to act as an “honest broker” the Presidency will avoid themes in which Cyprus’s national interests might put this role into question.
+ Escalation of Tension. The Republic of Cyprus will try to take advantage of its presidency to highlight its position in the Cyprus conflict. This will invite Turkey’s reaction and consequently Turkey’s rhetoric will causeCyprusto escalate the tension.
+ Crisis in the Region Unrelated to the Cyprus Conflict. As a consequence of a sudden crisis in the region (e.g. after an Israeli attack on Iran or a rapid escalation of a conflict in Syria), the Cyprus presidency and its agenda will lose significance, and the EU (and its member states) and Turkey relations will be conducted in other fora.
It concludes by says “the goal should be to prevent the escalation of tension scenario and strengthen the probability of the “zero problems” scenario.”
Full report here
Czech FM statements – Cyprus Mail here