Cyprus links Turkey-EU ties to Island's reunification
Cyprus insists that Turkey must engage in resolving the island's longstanding division to foster closer relations with the European Union, stated the Cypriot President on Monday.
Despite Turkey's longstanding candidacy for EU membership, progress has stalled due to the EU's concerns about Ankara's human rights record and adherence to the rule of law.
The division of Cyprus, an island in the eastern Mediterranean, resulted from a Turkish military operation in 1974, which was a response to a coup d'état that sought unification with Greece. As a member of the EU since 2004, Cyprus holds veto power over Turkey's EU accession efforts, a right shared by all EU members. The northern part of the island declares itself a state, recognized solely by Turkey.
"Cyprus advocates for enhanced EU-Ankara relations; however, these relations must evolve through solving the Cyprus issue," said Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, after a meeting with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Nicosia.
During his visit, Steinmeier highlighted the importance of considering Turkey's actions in Cyprus when evaluating its broader relations with the EU, urging member states to convey this stance to Turkey.
The last round of peace talks aimed at reconciling the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities faltered in 2017. Nicosia is pushing for the EU to appoint a special envoy to help rejuvenate the peace process, while also acknowledging the United Nations' primary role in mediating the conflict.
The longstanding conflict, which erupted in 1963, led to the deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping force that continues to monitor the 180-km ceasefire line on the island.
Steinmeier announced last week that Germany's cabinet has approved the deployment of police officers to join the U.N. force's civilian police unit, further internationalizing the effort to maintain peace on the divided island.