by Necati Münir Ertekün

In the past, the Greek Cypriots were able to play the West against the East and the East against the West. But with the end of the "Cold War" and the break-up of the Soviet Union, with the consequent decline of the Non-Aligned Movement, which Archbishop Makarios and the Greek Cypriots had been able to hoodwink, manipulate and use in their own interest so successfully for three decades, the fortunes of the Greek Cypriots in the UN General Assembly and in the UN generally were also on the ebb.

The Greek Cypriots consequently decided to concentrate their efforts not so much on the UN, where in the past they were able to get any one-sided resolution they wished, largely with the support of the Non-Aligned bloc, but rather to concentrate their efforts on the European Union, in which Greece is a member and Turkey is not.

With the coming to power of the present Greek Cypriot leader Mr. Glafkos Clerides (in February 1993), who had opposed the UN secretary-general's initiative leading to the "Set of Ideas" (during his predecessor George Vassiliou's term of office, when in opposition, during the election campaign and subsequently), the Greek Cypriot side turned its attention to Europe and to reactivating and expending EU membership, which it had set in motion in July 1990.

Before analyzing the specific reasons for this undue haste and agitation for EU membership by the Greek Cypriot side, it would be useful to take a brief look at the legal, political and economic implications of the membership of Cyprus in the European Union.

This is a complex issue, unlike applications for membership by other countries, and is a us genres case having regard to the us genres nature of the international treaties which established the original 1960 bi-communal Republic of Cyprus and to the situation prevailing in Cyprus at present.

1. Legal Implications:

On 3 July 1990, the Greek Cypriot administration in South made a unilateral application under the usurped title of "the Government of the Republic of Cyprus" to become a member of the EU (then EC) purporting to act for and on behalf of the whole of Cyprus.

This application was clearly illegal, as the Greek Cypriot Administration had no lawful authority to make such an application on behalf of the whole of Cyprus and / or on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot people.

This unlawful and unilateral application was immediately and strongly opposed by the Turkish Cypriot side with Memoranda addressed to the EU (then EC) dated 12 July 1990 and 3 September 1990.

A further legal aspect of the unilateral Greek Cypriot application is the restriction imposed by the international treaties, which had established the bi-communal 1960 Republic in any international organizations and pacts of alliance in which Greece and Turkey are not both members.

The Foreign Ministers of Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom, only a few days before the signing of the Zurich and London Agreements on 19 February, 1959, had agreed on 12 February 1959 that the parties should "avoid the possibility of either Greece or Turkey securing a more favorable economic position in Cyprus than the other - of Greece, for example, establishing a kind of economic Enosis."

The clear intention of the parties to the Zurich and London Agreements, as expounded above, and the mandatory provision of the second paragraph of Article 1 of the Treaty of Guarantee of 1960, which states that the partnership Republic of Cyprus established in 1960 under the said Treaties "undertakes not to participate, in whole or in part, in any political or economic union with any State whatsoever" cannot be disputed and proves the intention to maintain an equitable balance between the parties concerned.

As the EU is fast becoming a closely integrated union it must be regarded as a composite "State" for the purposes of the said Article.

It should also be noted that paragraph 23 of the Zurich and London Agreements of 19 February 1959, provides that "The Republic of Cyprus shall accord most-favored-nation treatment to Great Britain, Greece and Turkey for all agreements whatever their nature."

The intention of the parties has in fact been given effect in Point 8 of the Zurich and London Agreements by providing that "the participation of the Republic of Cyprus in international organizations and pacts of alliance in which Greece and Turkey both participate" are even excluded from the right of final veto of the President and vice-president. Constitutional effect was given to Point 8 of the Zurich and London Agreements by Article 50.1

(a) of the now defunct 1960 Constitution. It follows from the above, therefore, that, particularly by virtue of Point 8 of the Zurich and London Agreements, which are part of the international treaties establishing the Cyprus settlement of 1959-60 and which treaties are still in full force and effect, any future partnership federal republic of Cyprus cannot become a member of any international organization in which both Turkey and Greece do not participate, unless, of course, the original treaties are amended by their signatories.

2. Political Implications:

If, as appears to be the case, it is conceded by all concerned that only the future federal Republic of Cyprus will be able to join the EU, then we must bear in mind the procedure envisaged in paragraph 92 of the UN "Set of Ideas", which reads as follows:

92. Matters related to the membership of the federal republic in the European Economic Community will be discussed and agreed to, and will be submitted for the approval of the two communities in separate referendums. (This paragraph relates exclusively to arrangements that might be put in place in Cyprus and in no way impinges upon the prerogatives of the European Community and its member States in matters concerning membership in the Community.)"

This part of the "Set of Ideas" had been agreed to by President Denktas and the former Greek Cypriot leader Mr. Vassiliou. Clearly the membership of the future federal Republic in the EU is a matter which must be discussed and agreed, at the time between the competent organs and authorities of the two future federated states of the proposed federal republic and the matter submitted for approval of the two communities in separate referenda.

Nobody could expect the present Turkish Cypriot leadership to give support now (before the establishment of a federation) to an illegal and void unilateral application made by the Greek Cypriot side, which the Turkish Cypriot side has been strongly and vehemently opposing ever since the illegal application was made on 3 July 1990.

Surely, for the Turkish Cypriot side to support such an illegal application now, before an agreed settlement, would be tantamount to recognizing the "legality" of the Greek Cypriot Administration as "the government of the whole of Cyprus", which goes to the very root and essence of the Cyprus dispute and which would be a political impossibility and a "non-starter".

If any application for EU membership is to be made which would cover North Cyprus then it must either be made by the Turkish Cypriot side separately or must be made jointly by the two sides.

3. Economic Implications:

Without going into the technical details of this aspect, it is obvious that a prospective member of the EU, which has not got an integrated economy within itself, can hardly be expected to integrate with the economy of the EU.

The wide gap between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot economies must surely be a factor to consider. Hitherto, the EU has only been acting since 1990 on the basis of an application made by the unitary "state" in South Cyprus and on the basis of the affluent Greek Cypriot economy, taking no account of the different economy of North Cyprus nor of the fact that the proposed new member will now be a federal state and will have a federal economy, unlike the present economy of a unitary regime of South Cyprus.

The EU Commission's opinion (avis) of 1993 is based purely on the Greek Cypriot unilateral application by a "unitary regime" and on the economy of that regime. One might well ask the pertinent question as to why Greece and the Greek Cypriot side are so keen to join the EU notwithstanding the legal, political and economic difficulties explained above and notwithstanding the clear indication in paragraph 92 of the UN "Set of Ideas" (that it is only membership of the federal republic which could be discussed and agreed to, and will be submitted for the approval of the two communities in separate referenda)?

The increased efforts of the Greek Cypriot leader for EU membership, which has become an obsession, make it clear that this desire is not for purely economic reasons but rather for political reasons.

The Greek Cypriot side has made no secret of this fact and is apparently prepared to make empty gestures of concession, such as purporting to accept "limited sovereignty" of the federated states, rotating Presidency etc., in order to achieve EU membership.

The Greek Cypriot calculations regarding the advantages to them of EU membership may be summarized as follows:

(1) The removal of frontiers between EU member states would mean that there would be no frontier between Greece, which is a EU member, and Cyprus. This would for all practical purposes mean the achievement of Enosis between Greece and Cyprus through, as it were, the "back door"..

(2) Membership of Cyprus in the EU would for all practical purposes nullify and abrogate the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee (something which Makarios and the Greek Cypriot side have been trying to achieve under the Akritas Plan since 1963 and which they nearly succeeded in so doing in January 1964 had it not been for the strong and angry reaction of the then British Minister Mr. Duncan Sandys).

Clerides has made no secret of the great advantage to them of EU membership and has made several public statements to this effect, the most prominent one of which was made on the Greek Cypriot radio and television and reported in the Greek Cypriot "Fileleftheros" newspaper on 25 April 1994 when he stated:

"In the event of the EU membership of Cyprus materializing, Turkey will have to abandon any expansionist designs which it may have on Cyprus. Because intervening in a country which is a member of the EU is quite incomprehensible."

(3) Any special arrangements which may be agreed to in the final agreements concerning bi-communality, bi-zonality and security would in effect be meaningless within an EU context.

At a time when people are free to move from one EU member state to another, they could hardly be prevented from moving freely within the member state itself. In all probability, all such special privileges in the final settlement and in the constitution and legislation thereafter would, if challenged in the European Court of Justice, be found to be contrary to European law.

In this connection the following observations made in the "Daily Brief" published in the Oxford Analytica on 22 December 1994 are of particular interest:

"1. If Cyprus became a member, the EU might find itself forced to give effect to the claim of the Greek government to exercise jurisdiction over the whole of Cyprus (a claim already upheld by the European Court of Justice) and thus become embroiled in a conflict with Turkey.

2. If Cyprus came into the EU while Turkey remained outside, then, at least in theory, the frontier between Cyprus and Europe would disappear, while the frontier between the island and Turkey would remain.

The conclusion of the customs union with Turkey would reduce the importance of the barrier. However, the customs union does not provide for the free movement of labour, so Greeks would be free to settle in Cyprus, while Turks would be barred from the island. Since neither Turkish Cypriotes nor Turkey ever recognize such a disposition, the current Green Line dividing the island would become permanent. In other words, Greece might win a victory, but it would be pyretic.

3. If Greek controlled Cyprus became a member, there would be two Greek votes and two potential Greek vetoes in the EU. These votes might well be deployed against the wishes of the other members of the EU not only vis-à-vis Turkey, but also in Balkan affairs and other matters.

The major EU states do not wish to become inextricably embroiled in the interminable Greek-Turkish dispute.

More importantly, they see considerable advantages in closer links with Turkey, whose economy has a rich potential and whose political stability is crucial for the peace of the eastern Mediterranean area. Most EU countries see Turkey as a useful partner in an area stretching from the Adriatic to the borders of China, and comprising the five independent Turkish republics of the former Soviet Union.

The major EU countries also see the danger of provoking anti-western feeling in Turkey (whether of a fundamentalist or an extreme nationalist variety), by rejecting all Turkish overtures so long as Greek demands are not satisfied.

The legitimate concerns of the Turkish Cypriots regarding EU membership of Cyprus are well summed-up in the following paragraphs of a report by the distinguished London "Times" journalist Peter Strafford in the "Focus" section of the "Times" on 21 December 1994:

The Turkish Cypriots are now concerned about the application made in 1990 by the Greek Cypriot Government, claiming to act on behalf of the whole island, for membership of the EU. In response, the European Commission took the view that any decision to open entry negotiations should in principle wait until there was a settlement on the island, but is due to consider the application again next month.

The Turkish Cypriots have made clear from the beginning that they are adamantly opposed to the application. This is partly because they do not recognize the authority of the Greek Cypriot Government to act on their behalf, partly because they see the prospect of Cypriot membership as a means of bringing further pressure on them. In their view, any decision on an application should be made jointly after a settlement. Cypriot membership of the EU before that, would import the island's problems into the Union - providing, as one official put it, for "two Greek votes".

More important for the Turkish Cypriots, membership would in effect bring about something they have been resisting for years - union with Greece - because Greece is an EU member, while Turkey would remain outside. That, they point out, was formally ruled out in the 1960 agreements.­

EU rules would also mean that the Turkish Cypriots would lose any protection they might negotiate against being swamped in Northern Cyprus by Greek Cypriots. Most critically of all, they lose the protection of Turkey, since Turkey could hardly intervene in an EU member state.

It seems clear, therefore, that a decision by the Commission to change its earlier opinion and to advocate entry negotiations with the Greek Cypriots would provoke a sharp reaction in Northern Cyprus, just as the European Court ruling did.

Then, the response was to call for closer integration with Turkey, and it was enshrined in a strong resolution adopted by the Northern Cyprus parliament.

A decision to open negotiations with the Greek Cypriots would have a similar effect, not because the Turkish Cypriots generally want to become part of Turkey but because in a hostile world they would see no alternative to closer integration with the only friendly country. The decision would effectively drive the two parts of Cyprus further apart.