19 November 2009
Greek President Carolos Papoulias, known for his criticism of Turkey, targeted Turkish policy makers in his recent speech targeting Turkey again.
Papoulias said "as long as Ankara behaves as an occupying force in Cyprus, we cannot support the Turkish EU membership processes.
Papoulias made his criticism during a visit to one of the EU member states, Slovenia. Greek President stated that if Turkey wants to join the EU, it should cease its occupation of the northern part of Cyprus. Papoulias said, "as long as Ankara behaves as an occupying force in Cyprus, we cannot support the Turkish EU membership processes’ and also mentioned that "it’s not possible to think that a country that is aiming for EU membership is not recognizing a full member of the EU’.
Carolos Papoulias’ expressions have also been covered by the Greek Cypriot media, and he has said that Turkey is the only country who does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus (Greek Cypriots) and at the same time has not fulfilled the requirements of the Additional Protocol which includes opening the Turkish ports to Greeks.
In addition to his criticism of Turkey, Greek President Papoulias went one step further and claimed that "in the EU December Summit, Turkey’s accession process will be questioned. Papoulias said Turkey’s accession criteria have been clearly laid out. If Turkey does not fulfill its legal obligations, then the accession process cannot continue. This is not only a problem for the Republic of Cyprus, it is also problem for the EU’s credibility and reputation’, Papoulias said.
On the other hand, Dimitris Hristofias, President of Republic of Cyprus responded "No’ to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s proposal for a five-party conference.
USAK Balkans Researcher Ms. Muzaffer Vatansever commented on Carolos Papoulias’ speech. Vatansever stated, "We are at the edge of a turning point in the EU process on Turkey. The EU will make a decision at the summit on December, and the "Cyprus Issue is at the center of the debates that will give shape to the decision. Greece is a directly involved party to the issue, and it will try to get as many concessions as it can from Turkey. It is something expected and is not realistic to want Greece to follow the process unconditionally and silently. Papoulias’ populist expressions are the evidence of this.
"Papoulias’ approach is one-sided and does not cover the entire story said Mustafa Kutlay, researcher at the Centre for EU Studies. He argued "the "blame rhetoric’ regarding the Cyprus issue does not help anybody, but furthers the crisis by antagonizing parties. The Greek side is hoped to contribute to the solution of the problem instead of trying to use the EU platform as political leverage against Turkey.
By Atif Muezzinler (JTW)