Turkey has been given what looks like an ultimatum from the EU Commission: open your ports for ships from Cyprus within a month, or you may risk a halt to the EU accession talks now underway. At the same time, the Commission’s latest report on Turkey’s progress toward accession notes that political reforms have slowed down, further calling into question the country’s future EU membership.
The Commission’s progress report will be dealt with by the European Council next month. At that meeting, European leaders should ask themselves the following questions: Has the EU given Turkey a fair deal in the case of Cyprus? Has the EU’s behavior been consistent in supporting political reform in Turkey? What are the EU’s long-term interests vis-à-vis Turkey?
If the answers to the first two questions are “no” – as I believe they are – the third question becomes vitally important.
True, Turkey has closed its ports to ships from (Greek) Cyprus, and this is a violation of agreements. But it is also true that the northern Turkish part of Cyprus is denied access to free trade and other benefits from EU-membership.