Northern Cyprus and the European Union

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EU - Northern Cypriot relations
Map indicating locations of the EU and TRNC
   

European Union

Northern Cyprus

Northern Cyprus and the European Union have somewhat strained relations based on the fact the European Union (EU) does not recognise Northern Cyprus and sees it as a military occupation of one of its member states.

Legal situation[edit]

Due to the Cyprus dispute, Northern Cyprus is only recognised by the EU candidate state Turkey. All other countries recognise the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, as the only legitimate government for the whole island. However the Republic of Cyprus de facto only controls the south of the island while the Northern government, a Turkish puppet state seen as a military occupation, controls the north.

Due to this dispute, northern Cyprus is de jure part of the EU by virtue of de jure being part of the Republic of Cyprus. Aside from complicating the accession of Turkey to the European Union, it has placed the north in international isolation. It was hoped that the accession of the south in 2004 would provide the catalyst for unification so the two halves could join the EU as one country on 1 May 2004. However, the unification plan was voted down by the population of the Republic of Cyprus.

Status in the EU[edit]

Currently, the EU recognises the north as being under Turkish military occupation and hence is temporarily exempt from EU legislation. The euro also does not officially circulate in the north (although it does have widespread usage) and the Schengen agreement is not in effect in Cyprus due to complications in security at the external border to the north. The free movement of goods, capital, services and people is also not in effect.

However, seats in the European Parliament are allocated based on the population of both north and south Cyprus together. Due to the problems in getting northern Cypriots to vote, this has been criticised and there have been proposals to have observer members direct from the north to sit in Parliament in order to represent those citizens.

In wake of the April 2004 referendum on unification, and the support of the Turkish Cypriot community for the plan, the European Union made pledges towards ending the isolation of northern Cyprus. These included measures for trade and 259 million euro in aid. However the southern government have used their EU membership to veto[1] promised aid packages from the EU to the TRNC, and are using their membership to add pressure on Turkey to end their support for the TRNC.

Naturalised citizens of Northern Cyprus or foreigners carrying a passport stamped by Northern Cyprus authorities may be refused entry by the Republic of Cyprus or Greece,[2] although after the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU such restrictions have been eased following confidence-building measures between Athens and Ankara and the partial opening of the UN controlled line by Northern Cyprus authorities. The Republic of Cyprus also allows passage across the Green Line from the part of Nicosia that it controls, as well as a few other selected crossing points, since Northern Cyprus does not leave entry stamps in the passport for such visits. Since May 2004 some tourists have taken to flying to the Republic of Cyprus directly then crossing the green line to holiday in Northern Cyprus.[3]

Opening of trade[edit]

While the opening of trade between the EU and Northern Cyprus was initially promised, the Republic of Cyprus vetoed the opening of talks. However the Lisbon Treaty, which came into force in December 2009, removed individual vetoes by transferring the respective policy area to the ordinary legislative procedure (now giving the European Parliament a say). With Cyprus' veto gone, the European Parliament will begin debating the dossier for opening trade in June. If it passes, it is also expected to remove a major block to Turkey's EU membership bid as it has refused to open direct Turkish-(South) Cyprus trade unless the EU opened up EU-North Cyprus trade.[1]

Position of the Republic of Cyprus[edit]

Negotiations between both Cypriot communities have been complicated by the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the European Union in 2004. The TRNC views the EU accession as illegal as they had not been consulted (as the 1960 constitution stipulates), and that the Cyprus Government does not represent the Turkish Cypriot populace. Legally, the EU regulations cover the whole island, but in practice, they are only enforceable in the southern portion of the island.

See also[edit]

References[edit]