News / Europe

Cyprus Elections Leave Turkey's EU Bid in the Balance

Multimedia

Audio
Dorian Jones

This weekend Turkish Cypriots will go to the polls to elect a new leader. The election comes at a critical time, with ongoing UN-sponsored efforts to reunite the island.  But the current Turkish Cypriot leader - who is facing a strong challenger - has warned if he is defeated those talks could fall apart.  That is potentially bad news for Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

As voters in the northern half of the island, known as the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, go to the polls, its leader Mehmet Ali Talat has warned if he is defeated the current United Nations sponsored reunification talks will grind to a halt.

And, so far, polls show that hardline right-winger Dervis Eroglu is set to sweep to victory. A believer in independence from the rest of Cyprus, Eroglu has staked his claim to the presidency by accusing the incumbent, Mr. Talat of failing in talks with Greek Cypriots aimed at resolving their territorial dispute.

Richard Howitt, the spokesman for the European parliament committee on Turkey, says the reunification talks are not only important for Cyprus but also Turkey's European Union membership aspirations.

"The aspirations for reconciliation on the island of Cyprus are there, currently in the party leaders on both sides of the divide," said Howitt.  "The closeness the continuing progress on the Cypriot talks, would suggest that the European Union is not going to pull the plug on Turkey, because that simply would stop hopes of peace and reconciliation on Cyprus, too.

This tiny enclave of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus is not recognized by the United Nations and reluctantly recognized by Turkey. It is the result of a bloody division of Cyprus in 1974, when Turkey invaded the northern part of the island, in response to a military coup that was backed by the Greek government.

Today, the Greek side, which controls two-thirds of the island, wants reunification. But Eroglu supports a two-state confederation, which could negatively impact Turkey's bid to join the European Union.

Turkey started EU entry talks in 2005, but Cyprus has repeatedly used its position in the EU to block the opening of chapters, or areas to negotiate to ensure policies meet EU standards, as a pressure tactic on Ankara.

Another sticking point is pressure by the EU for Turkey to open its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot traffic, which it has so far failed to do.

The negotiating process, according to political columnist Murat Yetkin, has come to a virtual halt.

"In bureaucratic terms it's going well," said Yetkin. "The committees are working as along as the chapters are opened technocrats on both sides work very well, but in political terms, its idle, it is not going anywhere."

One bright spot, observers say, is Greece's election victory by Prime Minister George Papandreou last year.

In 1999, as Greece's foreign minister, Mr. Papandreou met with his Turkish counterpart, Ismail Cem, to start rapprochement talks.

Since he was elected, efforts have been under way to re-energize that rapprochement process. Earlier this month, the two countries committed themselves to new confidence building measures.

Suat Kiniklioglu, spokesman for the Turkish Parliament foreign affairs committee, expressed hope with the new leadership in Greece.

"We want a resolution to the Cyprus problem, this needs to get out of our way," said Kiniklioglu.  "We want to integrate further with the European Union and Cyprus is a problem. But the difference now, is you have a government in Greece that understands this very well; understands that a Turkey inside the European Union, is in Greek interests, rather than Turkey outside the Union."

Observers say with the current reunification talks not only being seen as the best hope for reunification in decades as well as carrying the hopes of Turkey's EU bid,  whoever wins this weekend's election in Turkish Cyprus will be aware there are powerful forces behind the continuation of those talks.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs