Tag Archives: Cyprus

Sweden Backs Turkey For European Union

There is an ongoing dispute as to whether Turkey is an Asian or a European nation, but the Swedish government made clear it wants Turkey to become a member of the European Union. Prime Minister Fredrick Reinfeldt said “Sweden fully supports Turkey’s bid to join the European Union… Turkey belongs to Europe.” However, he urged that Turkey could assist its own desire to join the EU by working to resolve problems on the divided island of Cyprus. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 into a Muslim and a Christian nation. Most nations recognize the Greek Cypriot state but few recognize the Turkish Cypriot state. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan warned hard line Turk Cypriots not to create problems that would impair his nation’s ability to enter the EU.

Turkey faces many issues in obtaining membership in the EU. There is fear of allowing a predominant Muslim nation into the group so it is important for Erdogan to find a way to resolve the Cypriot division in such a manner that respects the rights of both groups. Unless he does something, it seriously damages the ability of Turkey to be treated as a European nation.

Obstacles To US-Turkish Relations

Many Turkish officials believe that several issues remain unresolved between the United States and their nation despite the election of Barack Obama. Issues such as the situation on Cyprus, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Armenian genocide are regarded as sore points that remain obstacles to US-Turkish relations. Senator Biden has close ties with the Greek community and is believed to be sympathetic to Greek claims on Cyprus while Obama has frequently spoken about the genocide carried out by the Turkish government against Armenians early in the 20th century. The presence of Kurdish forces inside Iraq is an unresolved issue that continually creates tension in the region and Turkey would like to see the American-Iranian conflict resolved in a peaceful manner.

Prime Minister Erdogan is dubious about Obama statements that Afghanistan requires more US troops and would prefer dealing with issues through means of negotiations. His government also is worried that removal of American forces in Iraq will open new possibilities for Kurdish guerrillas to carry out attacks on Turkish forces. A sore point bound to become a thorn in efforts to establish peaceful relations between the US and Turkey is the well known commitment of Obama and Biden to Armenian claims there was a genocide.

It is about time that Turkey ask an international body of impartial historians to investigate the question of a genocide carried out against Armenians and submit a report. That will end the conflict once and for all.

French Prime Minister Opposes Turkey In EU

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon while on trip to Cyprus stated that his nation opposes the entry of Turkey into the European Union. He used the occasion for his talks with Cyprus President Demitris Christoflas to make clear his nation is against Turkey’s entry into the EU because it has “occupation troops” in Cyprus which is an EU member. His comment is among the first times in which the French government has publicly bluntly stated that it is against Turkey becoming a member of the European Union.

During the past few months, French President Sarkozy has floated many ideas such as formation of a Mediterranean Union in which Turkey could play a leading role and has dodged clearly explaining his reasons for opposing Turkey’s membership application. Not many believe Fillon’s reason that opposition is based on the situation in Cyprus. It most probably stems from the large number of Muslims in France and fear that Turkey’s membership would result in even more Muslims coming to France.