ANKARA: Trump card of “withdrawal of troops”

Milliyet, Turkey
April 29 2004


Europe closely follows steps that Turkey will take on ”its relations
with Greek Cypriot side” and ”its military existence in Cyprus”
while Ankara discusses the timing of two important decisions.
European diplomats agree with Turkish opinion that Turkish Cypriots
should not be punished after referendums. A European diplomat who
said that Greece and Greek Cypriots were expected to bind their votes
on Turkey in December on the condition of ”decrease in Turkish
military existence in Cyprus” noted, ”we know that also withdrawal
of Turkish and Greek troops was rejected in the referendum. However,
you have a powerful hand if you announce now that some number of
troops would be withdrawn in next six months or one year

Meanwhile, alternatives of ”withdrawal of troops” discussed in
Ankara are as follows:

1- Whole world stands by us if we immediately announce that symbolic
number of troops like five thousand would be withdrawn. Getting a
date from the EU becomes definite. (especially advisors to Prime
Minister Erdogan and diplomats who defend that solution in Cyprus
would come onto agenda again)

2- It can be considered in October-December period which is the final
stage of Turkey-EU bargaining. (Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and his
ministry’s departments for EU have this opinion)

3- Signal of ”withdrawal of troops” while we are the absolute
winner of referendum shows that we are ready to make more
concessions. Instead of it, if the EU decides to open entry talks
with Turkey, we can withdraw troops as a positive reaction. (Foreign
Ministry Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal and the ministry’s departments for
EU) If pressure of ”recognize Greek Cypriots” from the EU
increases, relations with Greek Cypriots will be carried out in a
similar way as the relations with Armenia. According to it, Turkey
will recognize Greek Cypriot side but they won’t be allowed to open
embassy and representation in Turkey.

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