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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 September 2005, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Cyprus deals with disappointment
By Tabitha Morgan
BBC News, Nicosia

Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos
Papadopoulos has had limited success in bargaining with the EU
Politicians in the mainly Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus are coming to terms with the realisation that their country is just a small player in the large and diverse European club.

President Tassos Papadopoulos has acknowledged that while the EU's latest declaration on Turkey may not have been exactly what he had hoped for, under the circumstances it was the best deal that could have been secured.

The final agreed text of the document insists that recognition of all EU member states is a "necessary component of the accession process" and regrets that Turkey has so far refused to recognise Cyprus, but it stops short of setting a deadline.

For President Papadopoulos' domestic critics, frustrated that the text fell so far short of their expectations, the correct course of action seemed simple: Cyprus should have threatened to veto the start of Turkish accession talks until Ankara agreed to formal recognition.

'Delusions'

Cypriot commentators often joke that many of their elected leaders behave as if the international community is exclusively concerned with resolving the Cyprus problem, and that this small island of less than a million people remains permanently at the top of the agenda for the European Union and the United Nations.

Politicians here have always, as one newspaper put it, "suffered from delusions of grandeur" over their importance on the world stage.

CYPRUS, TURKEY AND THE EU
21 September 2005: EU approves so-called counter-declaration calling on Turkey to recognise Cyprus before accession
July 2005: Turkey signs customs deal with 10 new EU member states but says move is not a recognition of Cyprus
December 2004: EU agrees to hold entry talks with Turkey
May 2004: Cyprus joins the EU
April 2004: Greek-Cypriots vote against re-unification plan

But faced with the prospect of all 24 European states agreeing to smooth the way for Turkish accession talks to begin next week, it became apparent that this was a time for pragmatism and political expediency, rather than for grand gestures.

Compromise is not a concept that is widely accepted in Cypriot politics.

Any mention of it in public debate of the Cyprus problem, known here as the "national issue", is viewed as unpatriotic.

Many Greek-Cypriots who rejected the UN's plan to reunite Cyprus in the referendum of 2004 did so in the belief that once the republic had joined the EU, their political leaders would swiftly be able to extract greater concessions from Turkey, and renegotiate a better deal.

But while Cypriot politicians are seeking to make political capital over the issue, there has been little public enthusiasm for engaging with such an intangible issue.

Despite the patriotic rhetoric, for most people the question remains an entirely abstract one with little or no impact on their daily lives.

For the Papadopoulos government, on the other hand, the controversy has been a salutary experience, highlighting the limited bargaining power that a small state such as Cyprus has when it comes to influencing EU policy.


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