EU shouldn’t have let Southern Cyprus join the bloc after it rejected a UN peace plan, says Jack Straw
Ahmet Gencturk | ATHENS
Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Thursday called for a two-state solution to the longstanding issue of the divided island of Cyprus, should talks for a charter for a united island fail yet again.
Pointing out how the Greek Cypriots rejected the UN’s Annan plan in 2004, which was accepted and supported by Turkish Cypriots and Türkiye, yet the Greek Cypriot administration was then admitted to the EU, he said: “In retrospect, we could, and should, have put Cyprus’ accession on ice at this stage, and made it clear to both sides that only a united island would be allowed to join the EU.”
Writing for Politico.eu, Straw said that against this background, by accepting the Greek Cypriot administration as a member, the EU effectively presided over the frozen conflict, and “in doing so, it has lost all serious leverage over Greek Cypriots.”
He also underscored that the Greek Cypriot administration in fact did not want a solution, as it found the current status quo better served its interests.
“There is, in my view, only one way through this impasse,” said Straw, who served as UK foreign secretary from 2001 to 2006. “And that is for the international community to commit itself to a two-state solution if negotiations for a new constitution for a united island fail yet again.”
Telling how Britain, along with Türkiye and Greece, is a guarantor state, as recognized by the relevant international treaties, he called on the UK to “break the spell over Cyprus, put the two-state solution on the table and seek to persuade other partners that this is the best way to unfreeze this conflict.”
Straw also pointed to how Southern Cyprus, for a long time, was one of the major money-laundering centers for Russian capital, with wealthy Russians buying thousands of citizenships by paying extravagant amounts of money.
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
Ethnic attacks starting in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.
In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece’s annexation of the island led to Türkiye’s military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the TRNC was founded in 1983.
It has seen an on-and-off peace process, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Türkiye, Greece, and the UK.
The Greek Cypriot administration entered the EU in 2004, the same year that Greek Cypriots thwarted a UN plan to end the longstanding dispute.
Türkiye fully supports a two-state solution on the island of Cyprus based on sovereign equality and equal international status.
SOURCE: ANADOLU AGENCY