Soon after the April 24, 2004 referenda held in Cyprus, members of the European Parliament warmly welcomed the decision by the EU Council to finally adopt a financial aid package for the Turkish Cypriot community, as repeatedly called for by the European Parliament. The council decision was seen as a first encouraging step to move toward adoption of the direct trade package in order to fulfill the remaining commitments made by the EU to the Turkish Cypriot community. The “high-level contact group” was set up to “strengthen relations with the Cypriot community in the northern part of the island” and “to establish contact with the political representatives of the northern part of the island, elected representatives and representatives of civil society in the broadest sense of the term.”
The aim was rather “to put an end to the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community and to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus,” as was laid out in the council conclusions of April 26, 2004.
The initial members of this contact group consisted of Francoise Grossetête (EPP-DE, FR), coordinator; Mechthild Rothe (PES, DE), deputy coordinator; Karin Resetarits (ALDE, AT); Cem Özdemir (Greens/EFA, DE); Francis Wurtz (EUL/NGL, FR); Sean O’Neachtain (UENS, IRL); and Ryszard Czarnecki (NI, PL).
LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) chairman and the European Par-liament deputy for Greece Georgios Karacaferis went into this group with a deliberate mission to paralyze or to block any constructive at-tempts toward Turkish Cypriots.
Three members of this group, including the coordinator, have hostile feelings toward the Turkish people, irrespective of their back-ground. It makes no difference for these members whether these are Turkish Cypriots or Turks of mainland Turkey. Their motto is “No ben-efit to any human being of Turkish origin.”
They come to Cyprus only to enjoy the benefits of a first class trip, enjoy the sunny days they spend on the island, eat the best food, stay in first class hotels and ride around in limousines.
Since their first visit to the island in March 2006, they have not caused anything to change. The political conditions, embargoes, isola-tion, direct trade regulations and the financial aid regulation are the same as the first day of their visit.
The European Commission’s 2007 progress report released on Nov. 6, relating to Turkey’s EU accession process, is envenomed by the Greek Cypriots and nothing against this report is heard from this group. The report, which appears totally Greek sided, refers to Turkey’s continual refusal to open its ports and airports to Greek Cypriot trade but has no lines mentioning the unjust political, economic, cultural, social, sporting and trade embargoes that still stand firm irrespective of the “Direct Trade and Financial Aid Regulations” of the EU dated April 26, 2004, and the commitments made after the “yes” votes of the Turkish Cypriots in the referendum on the Annan plan of 2004.
Lack of fulfillment of the promises to lift the embargos has created distrust of the EU by the Turkish Cypriots and Turkish people as well as by the Turkish Cypriot and Turkish politicians. The high-level contact group has already traveled to Cyprus four times to meet with roughly the same people and say roughly the same things without any results following their conversations. The constitution of the group does not allow either a political follow-up or political decisions. Given this, the group is no longer the appropriate instrument for the European Parliament to effectively deal with the Cyprus issue.