Straw: “ We should never have let South Cyprus join the EU”
Date Added: 08 September 2023, 12:06

Former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw stated that by allowing the Greek Cypriot administration to join the EU as a member, the EU effectively presided over the frozen conflict.

Straw criticized the accession of the South Cyprus to the EU in his article titled ‘We should never have let South Cyprus join the EU’ published in the US-based Politico magazine.

Straw reminded that a detailed plan was presented to both sides in Cyprus in 2004 during the EU full membership process of the South Cyprus and that the majority of the Turkish Cypriots on the island approved this plan, however the Greek Cypriots rejected this plan.

Straw emphasised that he had witnessed Cyprus’ EU accession negotiations closely and said “Many of us who had witnessed this process believed there had been serious duplicity on the part of Greek Cypriot negotiators. In retrospect, we could, and should, have put South Cyprus’ accession on ice at this stage, and made it clear to both sides that only a united island would be allowed to join the EU. The bloc’s failure (to which I was a party) means the EU itself has presided over a frozen conflict. And in doing so, it has lost all serious leverage over Greek Cypriots”.

Stating that the international community should support the two-state solution, Straw underlined that the U.K. is one of Cyprus’ three “guarantor nations,” along with Türkiye and Greece. He said “Britain cannot affect a two-state solution to Cyprus on its own. But what it could, and should, do is break the spell over Cyprus, put the two-state solution on the table and seek to persuade other partners that this is the best way to unfreeze this conflict.”

Drawing attention to the close ties between the South Cyprus and Russia, Straw said “The close association between Russia and the Greek-Cypriot Republic of Cyprus is long standing, all pervasive and, many believe, rather unhealthy. But what is the solution to this problem?”

Straw added “South Cyprus has a population of about 800,000 — or just 0.002 percent of the European Union’s total population. Yet, well into the last decade, South Cyprus was the third largest foreign direct investor in Russia. The money was mostly Russian capital, which had been hidden offshore in Cyprus to avoid tax and scrutiny, and was then reinvested back in Russia. From 2012 to 2013, an extremely serious banking crisis in South Cyprus had come close to destabilizing the whole Euro area. Greek Cypriot banks were over-leveraged, and an emergency loan of €2.5 billion from — yes — Russia failed to stabilize the situation. The EU itself had to intervene. Then, just last year, an extraordinary scandal engulfed the country’s political classes, when diligent investigative journalists uncovered an extensive conspiracy to secure South Cyprus (and therefore EU) passports for foreign citizens through the Cyprus Investment Program. Under the scheme, eligible foreign nationals could purchase citizenship for €2.15 million. Among those charged was a former president of the South Cyprus Parliament.”