Thursday, September 22, 2011

Turkey threatens to freeze EU ties

Turkey, an EU-candidate, will freeze relations with the European Union if Cyprus is given the EU presidency in 2012 according to an announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay.

These comments signal a new low point in relations between the European Union and Turkey, which has been becoming more hostile towards western interests and, at the same time, grown closer to Iranian interests in recent years. I have pointed out a couple of times that the democratic government in Turkey has changed dramatically since the Islamic based party won control and has successfully been consolidating power over the military and the judicial system (replacing generals and judges with their own supporters).

This is happening at a time of heightened tension in the eastern Mediterranean where Turkey is locked in a row with Cyprus over potential offshore gas deposits and Turkey's relations with one-time ally Israel are rapidly deteriorating.

"If the peace negotiations there (Cyprus) are not conclusive, and the EU gives its rotating presidency to southern Cyprus, the real crisis will be between Turkey and the EU," Anatolian quoted Atalay as saying. "Because we will then freeze our relations with the EU. We have made this announcement, as a government we have made this decision. Our relations with the EU will come to a sudden halt."

The internationally-recognized Greek Cypriot government is due to take on the six-month rotating EU presidency in July 2012.

Cyprus, divided since a Turkish invasion in 1974 has been involved in U.N.-sponsored peace talks between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots but those have not made progress since they were re-launched in 2008.

Turkey entered talks to join the European Union in 2005 but the conflict over Cypress has been a stumbling block. This latest announcement by Turkey will undoubtedly add to tensions and make Turkey entry into the EU less likely. That is something which does not disappoint me because I do like like the idea of Turkey entering the EU until the current ruling party there has finished its internal take over of the government and shown its true colors to the world, including support for Iran (especially Iranian nuclear ambitions).

Adding to tensions is an escalating row between Turkey and Cyprus over Greek Cypriot plans to launch gas explorations around the island. Turkey has voiced strong opposition to the plans. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Cyprus' plans amounted to "provocation" and it would consider carrying out its own offshore surveys with northern Cyprus if drilling went ahead.

The Greek Cypriot government has said it would block Turkey's EU-entry talks if Ankara continued to oppose the plans. The United Nations has appealed for a peaceful resolution to the dispute, saying both sides of the island should benefit from any energy reserves. The European Union, this month, told Turkey not to issue threats against Cyprus.

Adding to the tensions in the eastern Mediterranean is the sharp deterioration in relations between Turkey and Israel following the 2010 Israeli raid on a ship bound for Gaza. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish warships could be sent to the eastern Mediterranean at any time and Israel could not do whatever it wants there.

Live Long and Prosper...

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