How can Turkey join the EU without opening its ports?


car carrier taken at Limassol

Whilst praising Turkey’s successes, EC Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn made clear the EC’s lack of flexibility at a press conference concerning the progress report on Turkey’s accession. Responding to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s statement that Turkey will not open its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot vessels, Rehn merely said that “the Commission’s view is very clear”.

So, letting a Greek Cypriot yacht into Mersin harbour will not be enough, so what will? Apparently the issue is not the number of ships they allow into the ports it is the acceptance of the Greek Cypriot government as the only lawful one on the island. The argument is about letting just the south into the EU in 2004. There is a feeling that rewarding Greek Cypriots with governance of the entire island, despite them rejecting the Annan Plan which Turkish Cypriots accepted, was contrary to the spirit of those negotiations. Turks, both Cypriot and mainland, are regularly asking that the EU honour their part of a bargain they feel was struck.

Turkey seems to be ready to compromise in that they’ll recognise the GC government as long as the TC government is also recognised. It is extremely doubtful that either side will step back from these current stances and it is becoming more probable that Turkey will step away from wanting EU entry. This is a pity as other requirements “to revitalise its legislative and democratic reforms, especially with regard to freedom of expression and press freedom, as well as religious freedoms, women’s rights and trade union rights,” are much more important.

So, will Turkey unilaterally open its ports – No! Will the EU let them join without opening the ports to GCs – No! Will Turkey join the EU – Yes! Such is the mysterious nature of politicians and the way they twist words to suit their ends.

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