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Monday, February 27, 2006

Media Two Facedness

The European Union has agreed to unblock aid worth 139 million euros to the Turkish Cypriots, ending a two year dispute. This agreement could have been reached last year during Britain’s EU presidency but certain EU members insisted on linking the financial assistance with direct trade. The RoC government disagreed with this claiming that direct trade constitutes de facto recognition.

Lets recall how the press reacted back then when there was no agreement ... The money has been stuck in Brussels' coffers ever since, because the (Greek Cypriot) Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state since May 2004, has blocked the release of the funds. A statement like this or something similar was common when one read about this particular issue. Then of course followed by how the Greek Cypriots voted NO (oxi) to the Annan plan. Strong commentaries followed ... The audacity of the Greek Cypriots who make up only 700,000 people, do they not realize the Turkish Cypriots need these funds, how ohh how can they be punished when they voted YES to the Annan plan. SHAME! Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!

Most of these articles that discuss the Cyprus issue will say, but Ankara says this and Ankara says that but never state what Nicosia’s view is on a given matter.

We don’t need to know what Ankara says, we only need to know the facts. Around the time when a few EU member States were pushing for linkage between financial assistance with direct trade, the news wires picked up a story on “balls to embargoes (their website),” a story about Turkish Cypriot Football players stripping off clothing in protest of the embargo. The organizer was quoted in the press as saying that the campaign is about human rights and not politics. Yes, the very same embargo that has helped spawn luxury villas and yachts dotted all over the North of the island. What am I going on about? It seems the Turks have already rejected the EU deal and only a handful of news agencies are reporting it. That's right, direct trade was not linked to the aid.

Does it meet their maximalist demands, it does not. Never the less, this is a compromise deal that is a benefit to the Turkish Cypriots. The money will fund projects to improve infrastructure and the economy in the North, is this not considered a benefit? The rejection also tells us that any possible future agreement on the Cypriot issue that does not contain the maximalist demands of the Turks and the authorities in the North, would be rejected outright. Here is an example of a press article being receptive to Turkish arguments. The Cyprus spin stops on this site ... Financial Times, step to the front line:
Turkey upset by EU deal on N Cyprus
By Daniel Dombey in Brussels and Vincent Boland in Ankara
Published: February 26 2006 18:49 | Last updated: February 26 2006 18:49

The European Union has agreed a controversial aid package for the Turkish Cypriot community in northern Cyprus, in a decision that has upset Turkey and threatens to complicate further Ankara’s negotiations to join the EU.

Is it controversial because the EU agreed to it or because the Turks find it unacceptable? I did not bother to read the rest of the article.

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