The banking crisis that hit Cyprus prevented progress. The Cyprus question also continued to undermine the EU’s policy on Turkey.
The EU would like to see a solution in Cyprus but it is largely a bystander in the prolonged unification negotiations. In 2013, the stalemate continued after UN-mediated talks between the two communities had all but ground to a halt in January 2012. UN special envoy Alexander Downer hoped to restart negotiations in October in line with the preference of Cypriot Turks and Ankara. But, after an acute banking and financial crisis hit the Greek part of the island in March, reunification was inevitably downgraded as a priority.
Nicos Anastasiades, the Cypriot president elected in February, conditioned the resumption of talks on a joint statement with Turkish leader DervişEroğlu, in favour of a single, sovereign state, as well as a return of Famagusta’s ghost town of Varosha/Maraşto UN control. By contrast, Cypriot Turks and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu talk of a step-by-step, direct results-oriented process. Turks have not given up their stance that unification should happen on the basis of two “founding states” accepting to form a common entity, which is not acceptable to the Greeks. Furthermore, they did not respond to Anastasiades’ proposal on Varosha, which also involves opening the Famagusta port by placing it under EU supervision in exchange for a lifting of Cyprus’ veto over Chapters 23 and 24 in the accession talks (see component 37). These divergent expectations prevented talks from resuming, despite an informal meeting between the two Cypriot leaders in November.
The EU struggles to influence both Turkey and Cypriot Turks as it is a party to the conflict rather than a mediator. It continued to insist that Turkey should implement the 2004 Ankara Protocol and allow Greek Cypriot ships and aircraft into its harbours and airports in exchange for unfreezing a range of chapters in the accession negotiations. But, as in previous years, this linkage failed to produce results in 2013.