NICOSIA (Reuters) – Cyprus lambasted Turkey’s negotiating tactics to win the right to start EU entry talks, accusing Ankara on Wednesday of staging an Anatolian bazaar.
Monday’s ceremony was delayed by nearly two days of fierce wrangling over Turkey and Austria’s objections to the EU’s proposed negotiating mandate.
Turkey was concerned its ability to keep Cyprus out of NATO would be weakened. The mandate contained a call that Ankara stop blocking other EU members from joining international organisations.
The debate caused some bemusement in Cyprus, run by leftists who regularly indulge in NATO-bashing and blame it for scheming the island’s partition in 1974. Cyprus has never expressed a desire to join the alliance.
“The debate was a complete red herring, a public relations stunt at the expense of the Turkish people,” Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou said.
“I said that if they did not accept things as they were, I would pull out of this Anatolian bazaar and go home.”
“It was a disgrace that 25 foreign ministers and a prime minister, the Croatian one, had to sit around in corridors waiting for Mr (Abdullah) Gul to put on his performance for Turkish media,” Iacovou said, referring to his Turkish counterpart.
Iacovou’s outburst on public radio reflected deep tensions with Turkey and a foretaste of the bickering the EU can expect during Ankara’s entry talks.
Turkey has no diplomatic relations with Cyprus, which is represented in the EU by its Greek Cypriots. Ankara supports a breakaway state in northern Cyprus run by Turkish Cypriots.
Concerns were eventually smoothed over with U.S. intervention by Turkey being given assurances that the rules for joining the European Union would not oblige it to drop its objection to Cypriot NATO membership.
The contentious paragraph, however, remained in the mandate and Nicosia says it is still binding on Ankara.