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Old 12-06-2006, 07:47 PM   #1
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EU-Turkey relations: another crisis over Cyprus

Although I realize that any thread that doesn't have anything to do with the US is doomed in FYM, I'll take my chances and launch this thread. EU Summit is closing in, and with the current state resembling nothing less than 'paralysis', one can only wonder what's going to come out of it, for Turkey, Cyprus and the EU. Turkey's unwillingness to open its borders to Cypriot vessels is combined, with EU's inability to deliver on their promises to the Turkish part of the island, brought about yet another crisis in the EU-Turkey relations. Will the negotiations survive this? Let's cut open the Cyprus issue and discuss is exhaustively - although it will be probably just end up me and menelaos - and maybe even reach some kind of understanding.

But please do not draw in all the other issues surrounding the Turkish bid - Kurds, Armenians, human rights etc. We can discuss them in other threads, if you'd like, but I'd like to stay on topic here.

To start the debate, here is one of the most even-handed assessments of the Cyprus stalemate I've read so far. Let's go.


Is Ankara Gambling Away its EU Future?
By Charles Hawley

Turkey's refusal to open its ports to Cypriot vessels is seriously hampering the country's European Union ambitions. So why the stubbornness? Turks will tell you it's the Cypriots' fault. But distrust continues to fester on both sides.

It's a bet no Las Vegas bookie would ever make. Turkey is hoping that Cyprus can be forced to allow European planes to fly into Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus -- a state recognized by no country in the world except Turkey. That's the pot. That and a couple of white chips.

And what's at stake? If Turkey loses, its decades-long dream of European Union membership could finally fizzle out. Forty-six years of waiting, negotiating, reforming, convincing: wasted. No more future within the world's most powerful economy. It's a huge gamble and Ankara has shoved all of its chips to the center of the table. Problem is, Turkey's hand is terrible.

The issue, of course, is Cyprus. Less than a week before the European Commission releases a report on Turkey's progress toward joining the EU, the country still hasn't fulfilled what would seem to be an elemental requirement: opening up its ports to all EU members. Cypriot ships remain unwelcome in Turkey. The EU is not impressed -- and Turkey's going to hear about it on Nov. 8.

"If this situation continues, Turkey's accession is doomed to failure," said Heinz Kramer, an expert on Turkish progress toward EU membership with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin, referring to the ongoing stalemate over Cyprus.

According to a draft copy of the European Commission report obtained by the Financial Times Deutschland earlier this week, the rebuke will be twofold. Ankara will be chided for not having made sufficient progress towards eliminating torture in its prisons and providing better protection of the freedom of speech. But Cyprus is the real threat. Turkey, after all, signed the so-called Additional Protocol, which obligated it to open its borders to trade with the 10 new EU members who joined in 2004, including the Greek-dominated Republic of Cyprus.

So why doesn't Turkey just open up its ports and be done with it? The benefits of becoming an EU member must surely outweigh those of holding on to the northern tip of the rocky Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Don't they?

Perhaps. But this scale isn't perfectly balanced. From Ankara's perspective, the EU needs to fulfil its own obligations before Turkey throws any bones to Cyprus. Some progress has been made: Distribution has begun of the €259 million ($329 million) aid package pledged to Turkish-dominated northern Cyprus in 2004. The funds were partially intended as compensation from Brussels after the EU allowed Cyprus to join despite the unsettled dispute on the islands. But it was also a gesture of gratitude for Turkish Cypriot's support of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan to reunify Cyprus.

The EU also promised to open up direct links with the Turkish portion of Cyprus -- including the port of Famagusta and Ercan International Airport. Indeed, the Turks estimate that direct flights from Europe -- and the hordes of tourists they would deliver to area beaches -- could bring in as much as €1.5 billion per year for northern Cyprus. The promise, though, has so far gone unfulfilled. The Cypriots have blocked the deal in the European Council.

"The Cypriots are not easy people"

On the record, the EU will tell you that linking the two issues is unacceptable. Off the record, you get a different story.

"Officially nobody accepts the linkage," an EU source close to the Turkish accession negotiations, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "But politically, everyone is aware that it is part of the same game. ... The Cypriots are not easy people. They want Turkey to open all ports and then officially recognize Cyprus without giving them anything in return."


The Finnish EU presidency began a last ditch effort this week to ward off the seemingly inevitable clash. The offer involves loosening the EU embargo on the Turkish north of the island but sweetens the pot for Cyprus at the same time. The Turkish side would hand over control of the former-resort-turned-ghost-town Varosa to the UN, a precursor to it being reunited with the Greek side of the island.

The Cypriots, though, seem in no mood for compromise. In an e-mail to SPIEGEL ONLINE this week, Cyprus Foreign Minister Yiorgos Lillikas wrote that his country's position hasn't changed: Turkey must remove restrictions on Cypriot ships and planes without demanding anything in return.

"Instead of unconditional fulfilment of its EU obligations, Turkey tries to introduce totally unrelated issues, i.e. the opening of the illegal ports and airports in the occupied part of Cyprus," Lillikas wrote, referring to the Turkish-controlled part of the island. "There is no room for negotiating and (for Turkey) getting something in exchange from the EU or from the member states."

When the Nov. 8 report is released, Ankara is expected to get a firm slap on the wrists. But Turkey has gotten bad marks before and the progression toward EU membership has continued. The real test for Turkey could be the December EU summit. Cyprus has indicated that it will push for tough penalties should Ankara continue non-fulfilment of the EU customs agreement.

Even without imposing specific penalties, Cyprus is in a position to make life difficult for the Turks. As a full member of the 25-member club, the Cypriots can block accession negotiations with Turkey every step of the way.

Blocking Turkey

According to Volkan Bozkir, head of Turkey's diplomatic mission to the EU, they already have. "The opening chapters of the accession negotiations, even those without opening benchmarks," he complained recently to SPIEGEL ONLINE, "have been blocked by Cyprus with the support of Greece." Some chapters of the accession process have clearly identifiable steps -- benchmarks -- that must be met before negotiations can proceed.

Disagreement, accusations, recriminations. It's a pattern that's been repeating itself on Cyprus for decades. Greeks have been living on the island for millennia, but for contemporary Greek Cypriots, recent history begins on July 20, 1974. On that day, Turkish forces landed in northern Cyprus, eventually taking over some 36 percent of the island -- including Varosa and Famagusta. The island's population, until that time largely intermingled, separated.

While Turkey has officially recognized the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, no other country in the world has. And for Greek Cypriots and Greeks, the "occupation" as they refer to it, is in clear violation of international law.

"Our aim," wrote Foreign Minister Lillikas in his e-mail, "remains to reach a solution that will ensure the reunification of the island, its territory, society, economy and people, with no presence of foreign troops on Cyprus' soil."

Sounds reasonable. But for Turks, who have been present on the island since the 16th century, the recent history of the island extends back quite a bit beyond 1974. For a large part of the 20th century, following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Greece was intent on reuniting the myriad islands dotting the Aegean Sea with the homeland. Cyprus, despite its geographical position just off the southern coast of Turkey, was, for many decades of the last century, seen as something of a crown jewel of that project.

In 1960, when the island gained independence from Britain, its population was 80 percent ethnic Greek and 20 percent ethnic Turkish. But the constitution pushed through tightly regulated the two populations' relationship with each other and granted the three guarantors of the constitution -- Britain, Greece and Turkey -- the right to "take action with the sole aim of re-establishing the state of affairs" established by the constitution.

"Cyprus is a national issue for Turkey"

The constitution did little to decrease mounting tensions on the island and Greece began shipping soldiers and weaponry to Cyprus. Turks, not unreasonable, feared that Greece was intent on taking the island by force if necessary. Throw the Greek military dictatorship into the mix and Turkish involvement -- ostensibly justified by the 1960 "right to take action" -- became inevitable.

When Greek Cypriots today speak of "reunification" of the island, Turks hear "Greek rule." Even more difficult for Turks to swallow: The current president of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos, was part of the Greek Cypriot nationalist militia EOKA in the late '50s -- a group that was primarily interested in uniting Cyprus with Greece. Some have also accused Papadopoulos of orchestrating the Greek Cypriot "no" to the 2004 Annan plan.


Mistrust is rampant. And few in Turkey trust the Greek Cypriots to treat their Turkish counterparts well. "Cyprus is a national issue in Turkey," confirms Turkey expert Kramer. "For some it's security. For others it's honor. The vast majority still has a feeling that Turkish Cypriots are a part of Turkey and that they can't just be sold off."

In other words, simply opening up their ports to Cypriot ships just isn't in the cards.

History isn't the only hurdle. Turkey these days is not keen on sacrificing anything to join the European Union. A survey carried out last week by the Turkish daily Milliyet found that only one-third of Turks still support their country's EU membership aspirations. With elections next year, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has little incentive to jeopardize his political standing for the sake of getting a positive EU progress report. In short, solving the Cyprus problem doesn't appear to be super high on the list of Turkish government priorities at the moment.

That doesn't mean the country is willing to forget about membership. If there's one thing the Turks have learned through four and a half decades of membership talks, it is patience. And there is little chance, even if accession talks were to go well, that Turkey could become a member prior to a decade from now. "We're not talking about tomorrow," Turkish Ambassador Bozkir says. "We're talking about 10 years from now. Turkey will be a different country then. But for the time being, there is a relationship with the EU and it is not a new one."

Plus, Cyprus needs Turkey. If Turkey doesn't become part of Europe, Cyprus can forget about ever reuniting. There would be no carrots left to offer Turkey.

And what about the EU? After all, by welcoming Cyprus into the fold in 2004, Europe contravened its own intention of not admitting countries currently involved in territorial disputes.

The EU source close to Turkish accession negotiations says that the EU was worried that Greece was preparing to veto the 2004 10-nation enlargement if Cyprus was not included. "But there is a sense now within the EU that maybe (allowing Cyprus in) wasn't the most reasonable thing to do."

http://www.spiegel.de/international/...446107,00.html
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Old 12-06-2006, 09:10 PM   #2
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It's a rule that EU countries not have any border disputes. The article alludes to this, and admits that letting Cyprus in broke the rules to please the Greeks. Is Cyprus feeling any more pressure to get this worked out now that it's in the EU, or is it business as usual? Has it become even more important for Greece and Turkey?
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Old 12-07-2006, 07:21 AM   #3
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Actually, they have much less incentive to solve the issue now that they have the veto leverage over Turkey, they are unwilling to make any concessions, which will be needed to solve the problem.

The Cyprus issue unfortunately has now become tangled up with Turkey's EU accession for no good reason actually. Cyprus shouldn't have been allowed since its accession made the EU a part of the issue, and EU has lost its position as a neutral arbiter. They can hardly be a part of the solution now.

It became more important for Turkey, and Greece is kicking back and letting Cyprus do all the dirty work. Funny thing is, if Turkey's EU accession process breaks down, Cyprus can forget about any solution for a long time. In a way, they are digging themselves into a hole.
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Old 12-07-2006, 09:24 AM   #4
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Having read the article I can say it's an accurate neutral article that gives most of the info about the Cyprus occupation problem...
For us Greeks, it was a major diplomatic success that Cyprus entered E.U. because if we hadn't succeed it, then the "Anan" plan would have passed.
This plan gives the 20% of the island's population equal rights to rule the island...Straight offence to the remaining 80% wealthy part of the island...
I must also add that Cyprus was the first member of the 10-nation enlargement that had the conditions to enter, fulfiled so there is nowhere any favor to Greece or to anyone...
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Old 12-07-2006, 09:31 AM   #5
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If Turkey open the ports, this means that they will recognize they invaded in a free country and still occupy 35% of a E.U. member-country...70% of the island's natural resources are concentrated in this part...
So far the turkish view is that the island was liberated from the Greek Cyriots as compensation for the lands taken from Turkish Cypriots between 1963-1974...

Moreover, 35.000 Turkish soldiers are stationed in the occupied area, making it, according to the UN Secretary-General, "one of the most militarized regions of the world"...
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Old 12-07-2006, 09:55 AM   #6
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Talking about 'occupation' is not very accurate when there is another state (TRNC) in place, merely being protected by the Turkish troops. This is not necessarily the illegal occupation the Greek side claims, since Turkey was one of the three guarantor nations as the article states,

'the constitution pushed through tightly regulated the two populations' relationship with each other and granted the three guarantors of the constitution -- Britain, Greece and Turkey -- the right to "take action with the sole aim of re-establishing the state of affairs" established by the constitution.'

Since the Greek government at the time was a military junta intent on unifying Cyprus with Greece, Turkey used its right as a guarantor of the constitution and intervened. Within the constitution of the time, this was a legal action and claiming that Turkey 'illegally occupied' these territories is at best misrepresentation of the facts.
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Old 12-07-2006, 11:34 AM   #7
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I don't see any state there, what are you talking about..?
None recognise this state you claim...
Moreover, maybe the greek junta, (junta I repeat, not the legal elected government), gave the occasion to Turkey to take action, but there are two invasions (Atilla II)...How do you explain this..?
If the turkish side took it's legal rights and restored the order to the island, why they do keep for more than 30 years the army there..?

And why over 115,000 Turks have been brought over from Turkey.? Maybe to colonize the occupied area thus changing the demography of the island and controlling the political situation..?
They decided they had ancestors in Cyprus, so the got back to live again there..?

I don't know if I want Turkey in the E.U. maybe this will prove better for both nations, maybe not...
But it's common consideration that Turkey isn't Europe, this is a fact, it's the closest thing to the islamic-democracy regime that U.S. wants to impose to the arab nations of the area...

It is an experiment that if it proves unsuccesful it will dissolve E.U. from the inside...
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Old 12-07-2006, 12:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by menelaos
I don't see any state there, what are you talking about..?
None recognise this state you claim...
Moreover, maybe the greek junta, (junta I repeat, not the legal elected government), gave the occasion to Turkey to take action, but there are two invasions (Atilla II)...How do you explain this..?
If the turkish side took it's legal rights and restored the order to the island, why they do keep for more than 30 years the army there..?

And why over 115,000 Turks have been brought over from Turkey.? Maybe to colonize the occupied area thus changing the demography of the island and controlling the political situation..?
They decided they had ancestors in Cyprus, so the got back to live again there..?

I don't know if I want Turkey in the E.U. maybe this will prove better for both nations, maybe not...
But it's common consideration that Turkey isn't Europe, this is a fact, it's the closest thing to the islamic-democracy regime that U.S. wants to impose to the arab nations of the area...

It is an experiment that if it proves unsuccesful it will dissolve E.U. from the inside...
You might not see it from Greece, but if you go there you will find a de facto state with all its institutions in place.

Why did Turkey proceed with the second leg of the invasion? The main reason was that Gree Cypriot paramilitary forces were killing people in Turkish villages, and the government was incapable or unwilling to stop them. Here is the Wikipedia article on the issue.

"Turkey invaded Cyprus on July 20, 1974, after unsuccessfully trying to get support from one of the other guarantor forces - Britain. Heavily armed troops landed shortly before dawn at Kyrenia (Girne) on the northern coast. Ankara claimed that it was invoking its right under the Treaty of Guarantee to protect the Turkish Cypriots and guarantee the independence of Cyprus – a claim which is still being contested by Greeks and Greek Cypriots. The operation, codenamed 'Operation Atilla', is known in the north as 'the 1974 Peace Operation'.

The invading forces landed off the northern coast of the island around Kyrenia. By the time a cease fire was agreed three days later, Turkish troops held 3% of the territory of Cyprus. Five thousand Greek Cypriots had fled their homes.

Democracy was restored in Cyprus eight days after the coup against Makarios. By the time the UN Security Council was able to obtain a cease-fire on the 22 July the Turkish forces had only secured a narrow corridor between Kyrenia and Nicosia, which they succeeded in widening during the next few days in violation of the cease-fire[citation needed] .

At a conference on 14 August 1974, Turkey demanded from the Cypriot government to accept its plan for a federal state, and population transfer, with 34% of the territory under Turkish Cypriot control. When the Cypriot acting president Clerides asked for 36 to 48 hours in order to consult with Athens and with Greek Cypriot leaders, the Turkish Foreign Minister denied Clerides that opportunity on the grounds that Makarios and others would use it to play for more time. An hour and a half after the conference broke up, the new Turkish attack began. Britain's then foreign secretary and soon to be prime minister James Callaghan, later disclosed that Kissinger "vetoed" at least one British military action to pre-empt the Turkish landing. Turkish troops rapidly occupied even more than was asked for at Geneva. Thirty-six-and a-half per cent of the land came under Turkish occupation reaching as far south as the Louroujina salient."

Why do they keep the army there? Because all efforts (such as the Annan plan) to return the island to its pre-coup conditions have failed. Unless Cyprus is unified, the troops have sufficient legal grounds to remain there.

On your claim about on 115,000 thousand people being 'brought' into the island.. this is just bogus. Immigration is a normal thing, whether they come from Turkey or Japan doesn't matter. These people are living the legally under the TRNC, some of them for 30 something years. Their lives are now in Cyprus, and they are citizens of TRNC. Do immigrants need ancestry in a country to live there?

Also I am appalled by your description of Turkey as an 'Islamic democracy'. Turkey is a secular democracy with a secular constitution. Turkey is as much of an 'Islamic democracy' as France or Britain are 'Christian democracies'.

Whether Turkish accession will do good to the both sides is another issue, and we should probably stay on topic and not disgress from the issue at hand. You could start another thread on that, if you'd like.
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Old 12-07-2006, 12:56 PM   #9
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I maybe didn't expressed myself very well when I wrote about the islamic-democratic regime...
With that I meant that Turkey is the only muslim state that it's regime is democratic and similar to the western world, althouth juntas take actions when they fear things won't go well for them.
Whether you recognize it or not the gendarmerie in Turkey is powerful...

Now I wonder what 115.000 citizens wanted to do in a place that is far poorer than Turkey...
It seems that Turkey brought them to change the demographics.It is very sad if you can't see it...
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Old 12-07-2006, 01:36 PM   #10
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the army is powerful in Turkey, no question of that. Whether that is a good thing or not in the short term is open to debate, however in the long term, it is of course desirable to have the military under total civilian control. This is another matter of debate why the army has an important role in the short term.

On the other issue, I have friends living in Cyprus, some of them went to study there - there are quite a few private universities in there, as well as additional campuses of some Turkish universities like METU- and then just stayed there. Some people went because it is quite a beautiful place to live, and a lot cheaper than Turkey as well. These people of course didn't go looking for jobs, since there aren't many, but they had other reasons. It is rather unrealistic to think that nobody would ever immigrate to this country for 30 years, don't you think so? 30 years, 115.000 people immigrated. It is not SUCH a huge number.
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Old 12-07-2006, 01:47 PM   #11
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What is this "EU" you speak of?




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Old 12-07-2006, 01:51 PM   #12
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Originally posted by DaveC
What is this "EU" you speak of?




It is a place far, far away. Some sort of.. Galactic Empire, if you will. They eat brocoli, croissants and dance to Austrian 'happy' music.
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Old 12-07-2006, 01:55 PM   #13
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These grounds aren't free grounds, they are OCCUPIED...Greek-Cypriots had homes and land before the invasion and now some Turks from the deep of Asia that had no job to live in Cyprus are living in...Do you think that E.U. can just close the eyes and let them enter the Union as well..?
I think not...
And you must not forget that all those years Germany and France were supporting Turkey towards the entrance...
Now that Greece changed the foreign policies and support the Turkish candidate (under conditions) the masks fell down...
3 days ago Sarkozi, probably the next President of France claimed in public that Turkey is not a European state...
On the contrary the special relationship that E.U. think about Turkey will be harmfull for different reasons for both parts...
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Old 12-07-2006, 01:57 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by all_i_want


It is a place far, far away. Some sort of.. Galactic Empire, if you will. They eat brocoli, croissants and dance to Austrian 'happy' music.
I must add that they can freely smoke there...
And they totally accept the homo-sexual culture...
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Old 12-07-2006, 02:07 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by menelaos
These grounds aren't free grounds, they are OCCUPIED...Greek-Cypriots had homes and land before the invasion and now some Turks from the deep of Asia that had no job to live in Cyprus are living in...Do you think that E.U. can just close the eyes and let them enter the Union as well..?
I think not...
And you must not forget that all those years Germany and France were supporting Turkey towards the entrance...
Now that Greece changed the foreign policies and support the Turkish candidate (under conditions) the masks fell down...
3 days ago Sarkozi, probably the next President of France claimed in public that Turkey is not a European state...
On the contrary the special relationship that E.U. think about Turkey will be harmfull for different reasons for both parts...
I concur that there ought to be some sort of compensation of property for people who were displaced, but this is also true for the Turkish Cypriots that were displaced. A settlement on this issue will certainly come if the island is ever united.

I am also very well aware of the stance of the French and the Germans towards the Turkish bid. Since Greece was opposing anyway they never needed to do it themselves, and now they do. The German SPD is very much in favour of the bid, however CSU-CDU is definitely against it. The situation in Germany seems to be very dependent on internal politics, since Schroder was very positive, and Merkel is equally negative.

France, on the other hand, is not only openly hostile to Turkey's bid, but is also rather unaccomodating overall. Sarkozy is a right-winger with a hardline stance, so this isn't very surprising.

These countries probably never imagined that Turkey would ever be in shape to enter the Union, and now they are kind of shocked that it might be someday.

Coming back to the Greece, Cyprus and Turkey and the dynamics between those countries, I think it is in everyone's mutual interest that the negotiations continue. Greece and Turkey, as a result, will become closer and this will also eliminate any vague threat of conflict between the countries. Cyprus, as well, will benefit from the process, since the EU 'carrot' is more or less Turkey's only political incentive to push for unification.

The special relationship, by the way, is such a mysteriously vague term that I don't think it actually is worth anything. Turkey wouldn't be interested in it, whatever it might mean to Angela Merkel.
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