Relations with the Europe

Cyprus Table of Contents

As Europe moved to create a single market by the end of 1992, the European Community (EC) became an increasingly important focus of Cypriot foreign policy. Cyprus became an associate member of the EC in June 1973, motivated largely by a desire to maintain its major trading partnership with Britain. But relations with Brussels were troubled by the uncertainty of the political situation on the island and the EC's preference for avoiding entanglement in political disputes. EC policy throughout the years of the division of the island was to deal with the republic government as the legal authority, but at the same time to state that the benefits of association must extend to the entire island and its population. Cypriot efforts to link EC aid to Turkey to progress on a Cyprus settlement were unsuccessful, although the European Parliament passed several supportive but largely symbolic resolutions on Cyprus in the 1980s.

After the 1988 election of George Vassiliou, in an era of revitalized European consciousness, Cyprus's attention to the EC increased dramatically, and its foreign policy became more ECoriented and focused less on the Third World and the NAM. On July 4, 1990, the republic formally applied for full EC membership. In a public statement, President Vassiliou said that Cyprus had "declared its European orientation and its desire to participate as actively as possible and on an equal footing with the other EC member states in the historic process of European integration and the building of a Common European House of peace, cooperation and prosperity."

It was clear that the membership bid, which was not expected to culminate in actual accession until the next century, was strongly driven by the settlement process. The application could be seen as a tactical move intended to give new momentum and new incentives to the Turkish side to achieve progress in talks. For Vassiliou, the EC application and its expected decade-long waiting period was an opportunity. He hoped that the EC accession timetable would parallel a negotiation timetable, so that a new federal government and full membership in the EC could be achieved at the same time. He argued that the benefits of EC membership would be conferred on "all Cypriots without exception." Should settlement talks fail, the EC application would serve a second purpose, giving Cyprus a framework for discussing the lack of progress with its EC trading partners.

It was estimated by the early 1990s that 85 percent of Greek Cypriots favored full EC membership, with AKEL the notable exception. The Greek Cypriot parliament pressured Vassiliou in the spring of 1990 to move more quickly on the EC issue. Some Cypriots, including DISY leader Clerides and some Vassiliou supporters, floated the proposal to have Turkish Cypriots participate in future negotiations with Brussels, although such proposals, without more formal recognition of Turkish Cypriot separate political rights, appeared doomed to failure.

More about the Government and Politics of Cyprus.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress