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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Turkish-German row over Cyprus

German PM Angela Merkel criticized the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot leaderships during a trip to the Cypriot capital of Nicosia Tuesday. Praising Greek Cypriot leader Demetris Christofias for his efforts, she chided the Turkish side for not reciprocating.

Unsurprisingly, reactions in Nicosia were as delighted as the Turkish response was angry. According to, the Politis newspaper (whose headline was an exuberant "Angela! Angela!") reported that Merkel's remarks "made President Christofias smile." The Fileleftheros noted that "She didn't mince her words," while the communist party organ, Xaravgi, exclaimed: "We Support You."

Ergoğan, for his part, did not mince his words in responding to Merkel:
I guess Ms. Merkel has forgotten what she has said. It was herself who said that it was wrong to admit southern Cyprus into the European Union. It is also clear that she does not know about history of the Cyprus issue.
It is hard to tell what, if anything this row means for the stalled negotiations but it is unlikely to help. Cyprus is undoubtedly a central obstacle to further progress, albeit not the only one. Nonetheless, my sense is that it is now largely up to Turkey to take some decisive steps toward a resolution - irrespective of the history or who is to blame for the current situation. The obvious matter to be resolved by Ankara being the implementation of the Additional Protocol of the Turkey-EU Association Agreement (ending the blockade of Greek Cypriot ships in Turkish ports).
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