By Stefanos Evripidou Published on July 22, 2011
TURKISH PRIME Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s tough rhetoric during his visit to the occupied north has raised eyebrows among some European politicians, with one senior German official calling for the EU to cut off accession negotiations with Turkey.
According to Deutche Welle, a senior conservative hailing from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s political grouping, Alexander Dobrindt, said anyone who would stop talking to the EU has no business seeking membership in the bloc.
“The EU cannot continue to tolerate Erdogan's threats and attempts at blackmail,” Dobrindt was quoted saying. “Once again, Erdogan is insulting an EU member, and the only response to that can be to definitively break off accession talks with Turkey,” he added.
The call to break off accession talks comes after Erdogan made comments during his visit to mark the 37th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, where he threatened to freeze relations with the EU when Cyprus took over the EU Presidency in July 2012.
Reports suggest Ankara is playing hardball on the Cyprus issue but would not go so far as stopping trade with the EU, its largest trading partner, or direct talks with the Commission.
Dobrindt is secretary general of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union, which opposes Turkey’s full accession to the EU.
British Member of the European Parliament Andrew Duff also released a statement on Erdogan’s comments saying he was appalled at the latest twist in Turkey’s policy towards Cyprus and the EU.
In a scathing attack against the Turkish PM, Duff said: “Mr Erdogan and (Foreign Minister) Mr (Ahmet) Davutoglu have missed another great opportunity to reconcile the two Cypriot communities and, by doing so, to resurrect the prospect of Turkish membership of the European Union.
“Not only does the Turkish government cling to outmoded hostile rhetoric but it raises an entirely new obstacle to improving relations with the EU,” he added.
The Liberal Democrat MEP said the Turkish leadership must have been informed that there is no chance of the EU changing its long-standing decision about the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.
Simply put, it is the turn of Cyprus to take the chair of the Council in July next year. “Instead of using this opportunity to progress their case for membership, the Turkish leadership has blown it,” said Duff.
The MEP flagged as a red herring Erdogan’s effort to put July 2012 as a deadline for Cyprus peace talks.
“The idea of another referendum on the island next year in advance of the Cypriot EU presidency is ridiculous false trail in the absence of a genuine deal between MM (Demetris) Christofias and (Dervis) Eroglu, the leaders of the two communities, backed by Turkey and the whole international community. 2012 is a false timetable.
“The reality is that the Cypriot problem is and will remain intractable in the absence of outside involvement. Unless Turkey trusts the EU to help reach a settlement there will be no settlement. The good offices of the UN will not be enough, and they are, in any case, almost exhausted,” he said.
Duff, who had high level talks on both sides of the island recently and who is a member of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, added: “Instead of moving on from the failed Annan Plan of 2004, the Turks have actually gone backwards – thereby putting themselves alongside the reactionary nationalism of the Greek Cypriot Church.”
According to Duff, Erdogan should have taken the opportunity to express sympathy with the current plight of the Greek Cypriots and Greece, meet with pro-peace activists, and even propose the establishment of a genuine process of truth and reconciliation..
“He could have sunk his enormous pride and arranged meetings directly with President Christofias,” he said.
Instead of preparing the Turkish public for a federal Cyprus and the normalisation of relations with all EU member states, “he sounds increasingly like the worst of the ultra-Kemalists”.
Duff concluded: “By offering Turkey only the crude choice between ‘the EU or Cyprus’, he is likely to end up with neither.”