EU and the Cyprus Problem

As far as the Cyprus problem is concerned, the EU has taken a clear and firm position in support of a solution that respects the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity of the country, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and the high-level agreements. The EU position that the status quo imposed by the Turkish invasion of 1974 and the continued occupation by Turkish troops of 35% of the island’s territory is unacceptable, was stated in the Dublin European Council Declaration (26 September 1990) and was repeated on numerous other occasions.

The European Commission issued its positive Avis (Opinion) on Cyprus application for full membership in June 1993. The Avis also noted the following:

  • "A political settlement of the Cyprus question would serve only to reinforce this vocation and strengthen the ties which link Cyprus to Europe. At the same time a settlement would open the way to the full restoration of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the island and encourage the development of pluralist democracy".
  • "The Commission is convinced that the result of Cyprus’ accession to the Community would be increased security and prosperity and that it would help bring the two communities on the island closer together... In regard to economic aspects, this Opinion has shown that, in view of the progress towards a customs union achieved thus far, the adoption of the acquis communautaire by Cyprus will pose no insurmountable problems... This Opinion has also shown that there will be a greater chance of narrowing the development gap between north and south in the event of Cyprus’ integration with the community".
  • "This Opinion has also shown that Cyprus’ integration with the Community implies a peaceful, balanced and lasting settlement of the Cyprus question - a settlement which will make it possible for the two communities to be reconciled, for confidence to be re-established and for their respective leaders to work together. While safeguarding the essential balance between the two communities and the right of each to preserve its fundamental interests, the institutional provisions contained in such a settlement should create the appropriate conditions for Cyprus to participate normally in the decision-making process of the European Community and in the correct application of Community law throughout the island".

The European Council Conclusions of the 1999 Summit in Helsinki included a clear statement that a prior solution to the Cyprus problem was not a precondition for Cyprus’ accession to the EU.

In the Presidency conclusions of its summit in Seville (21-22 June 2002), the European Council reiterated its support for "a comprehensive settlement consistent with the relevant Security Council resolutions". The Council said further that "the European Union would accommodate the terms of such a comprehensive settlement in the Treaty of Accession in line with the principles on which the European Union is founded: as a member-state, Cyprus will need to speak with a single voice and ensure proper application of European Union Law".

The European Council summit in Copenhagen (12-13 December 2002) took the historic decision to admit Cyprus together with nine other applicant countries on 1 May 2004. With respect to Cyprus, the Council confirmed its strong preference for accession to the European Union of a united island and expressed its belief that the UN Secretary-General’s peace plan offered a unique opportunity to reach a settlement. It further stated that 'in the absence of a settlement, the application of the acquis to the northern part of the island shall be suspended, until the Council decides unanimously otherwise, on the basis of a proposal by the Commission'.

The European Parliament has also taken a clear and firm position on the question of Cyprus. In its resolution of 13 June 2002, it reaffirms that only a single sovereign Cypriot State will be permitted to accede. It notes that 'that State as provided for in the UN Security Council resolutions, may be bi-zonal and bi-communal, but it has to be a fully functioning entity at international level and must be in a position to exercise decision-making power; is firmly convinced that responsibilities for foreign policy, European policy, economic and monetary policy, citizenship, and security and defense policy must be delegated to a common structure'.

It says further that 'whatever constitutional arrangements the parties may lay down, the acquis communautaire, fundamental freedoms, and human rights must be observed in full, and that exceptions to the acquis resulting from a settlement can be accommodated in the accession framework, whereas there can be no derogation from the principles on which the European Union is founded (i.e. human rights)'.

On 16 April 2003 the Accession Treaty was signed in Athens by Cyprus and the nine other candidate countries, after the European Parliament gave its assent to Cyprus´ application to become a member of the European Union. The Protocol on Cyprus which was attached to the Treaty provides for the suspension of the application of the acquis in the areas of the Republic not under the effective control of the Cyprus Government, to be lifted in the event of a solution to the Cyprus problem. It also states that the EU is ready to “accommodate the terms of a settlement in line with the principles on which the EU is founded” and expresses the Union’s desire that the accession of Cyprus should benefit all Cypriot citizens.

At its meeting on 26 April 2004 in Luxembourg, the EU Council, noting the results of the 24 April 2004 referenda in Cyprus, expressed its strong regret that the accession to the EU of a united Cyprus would not be possible on 1 May as well as its determination to ensure that the people of Cyprus would soon achieve their shared destiny as citizens of a united Cyprus in the European Union.

Source: Press And Information Office, Republic Of Cyprus, 2005