GeriGündem Ankara's last minute move on ports snaps EU to attention
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Ankara's last minute move on ports snaps EU to attention

Ankara's last minute move on ports snaps EU to attention
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Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul reportedly called Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja two nights ago, and mentioned possible steps which Ankara was considering taking on the Cyprus matter. Finland then, acting as term president of the EU, spoke of these suggestions in Brussels the COREPER meeting, a gathering of EU state permanent members.

"Tactical diplomacy"

Ankara, which is engaging in what is called "tactical diplomacy," did not mention any "prerequisites" in its verbal suggestions, though it did make it plain that the opening up of air and sea ports would have to happen simultaneously with the lifting of isolationary measures against Northern Cyprus. Ankara has also avoided discussion of which side which take the first step. This stance strengthens the likelihood that talks and negotiations on the opening up of air and sea ports are going to occur until the very last possible minute. What follows are some of the latest suggestions coming out of Ankara:

Turkey will continue to implement the harmonizing protocol. It will be arranged that the Southern Cypriots can fly civil flights into a Turkish airport.

One port run by the Turkish Customs Union is prepared to be opened to the Southern Cypriots. This opening will occur sometime between January 1 and December 31 2007.

Turkey is requesting a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem to be presented by the United Nations within the next 2 months. It requests that the EU also encourage this.

To reciprocate, Magosa sea port and Ercan airport to open up to outside

In the second part of the most recent suggestions to come from Turkey, it is proposed that both the Magosa sea port and the Ercan airport in Northern Cyprus be opened to direct international civilian and cargo traffic under the control of Northern Cypriot authorities at some point over the next 12 months.Turkey has also clarified that the airport it is considering opening to Southern Cyprus might be Istanbul, Izmir, Adana or Antalya.

If these latest suggestions from Ankara are accepted, it is expected that Ankara will assert at the December 14-15 EU summit that it has fulfilled what was expected of it in terms of the additional protocols that had been causing so much controversy. At the same time, this would mean that the recent so-called German-Franco alliance calling for a comprehensive review of Turkey's membership process would then be left legally unnecessary.

The news that Turkey had taken a step yesterday on ports reportedly hit Europe like a bomb; while some EU leaders, caught unprepared, had praise for the "golden goal" made by Ankara, EU term president Finland said "It is not a solution, but it is a positive sign."

Did Merkel know in advance?

Some EU circles reported that the last minute softening in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's stance against Turkey was linked to the fact that the German leader had heard prior news of Ankara's plans.

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