by Upstate NY
Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 08:42:12 AM EST
Ministers voted to suspend eight of the 35 chapters or policy areas into which the talks are divided, covering trade and transport, and review Turkey's compliance annually until 2009. Other sectors of the negotiations will go ahead but not be concluded until Turkey complies with its obligations on Cyprus.
They also agreed in principle on steps to end the economic isolation of northern Cyprus, but that accord is to be confirmed in January, diplomats said.
This presents a mild surprise only in the sense that the Foreign Ministers unanimously agreed to the formula when it was widely expected that there would be disagreement, and that the Prime Minister's meeting on the 14th would have to wrangle with the Turkish accession.
Instead, the meeting is now free to consider other issues, such as Croatia's enlargement status, as well as Bulgaria and Romania.
From the diaries -- whataboutbob
Ultimately, the recommendation by the Finns which was released a few weeks ago largely held the line. Germany and France totally backed off talk of total suspension until Turkey complied. Instead, France and Germany put pressure on for a review of Turkey's decision. Britain was upset by the review because of a deadline that was to be attached, which Britain interpreted as a form of ultimatum to Turkey.
Someone came up with the rather brilliant idea (or, bizarre, absurd, phony idea) that a deadline-in-reverse, or bizarro-deadline might be implied with some rather tricky wording. Instead of the EU reviewing Turkey's compliance in 2009, there will now be yearly reviews "until 2009." UNTIL is the key word in the entire agreement. Get it? So, there is no deadline per se, just pro forma reviews, and then there won't have to be any more such reviews after 2009, when presumably Turkey will have complied with the customs protocol. Haha, unless of course Turkey doesn't comply.
Diplomacy really is a literary art, apparently. This rather ingenious clause allows Britain, Germany, Cyprus, France, Greece to get on the same page and show EU unity. Of course, Turkey might comprehend the clause as an implied deadline of sorts (and it has to be for the entire EU to go along with it). But yet Turkey has an out. It can simply treat it as an implied deadline without fangs, because there is no course for punishment laid out. So, the waiting game continues until 2009.
In the meantime, the EU said that it will take action to lift the isolation of the north of Cyprus. This could mean anything. It could be simply in terms of technical relations with the EU, or it could be something much more meaningful. Cyprus had been offering to open a port up in the north in return for an unoccupied ghost town that sits right near UN-green line territory. They may have just agreed to open up the port for shipping unconditionally. I very much doubt that they allowed the isolation of the north to happen through the opening of a northern airport because of its implications for official recognition of the north as a nation-state. Opening up a port to trade fits in with the idea in Cyprus that the lifting of isolations must only occur in terms of trade or economic isolations, and that all political isolations must stay (a position Cyprus hold under the threat of veto-ing Turkish accession).