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Mediterranean Quarterly 15.2 (2004) 106-111
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Cyprus will be admitted to membership in the European Union in May 2004. The expansion of the EU, to include eight Eastern European states and two islands in the Mediterranean (Cyprus and Malta), will mark the beginning of a new phase on the long road to Europe's economic and political unification. It will also mark the beginning of a new phase for Cyprus.
For Europe, Cyprus's status as a sovereign country has been problematic. How "sovereign" is a country occupied by foreign troops? While the island is recognized as a single entity by the international community, it has been de facto divided into north and south since its invasion and occupation in 1974 by Turkish military forces. In social, political, and economic terms, Cyprus consists of not one but two entities, which have been deprived of normal interaction with one another for over a quarter century. In addition to hosting Turkish troops, the occupied north has a separate administration and a self-proclaimed status as an independent state. Yet, from the standpoint of international law, there is only one Cyprus, and it is about to become an EU member state.
How can—indeed, how will—the EU embrace Cyprus? What is the importance of EU enlargement for the divided island? What does its successful membership application demonstrate about the geopolitical role of the EU in conflict mediation and resolution? What are the implications of the precedent set by Cyprus's admission to the EU [End Page 106] for security, stability, prosperity, and prevention of future conflict in Europe? Pauline Green has approached these questions from her perspectives as a British politician (with 120,000 Cypriots in her north London constituency) and former leader of the Parliamentary Group of European Socialists in the European Parliament from 1994 to 1999. She has done so in a book that is generally optimistic, even idealistic, appealing in its conceptual framework and uplifting in its message. This is quite an achievement. Readers already familiar with the contemporary history of Cyprus will be reminded of all the reasons for which cynicism, rather than optimism, has been the operative word associated with "the Cyprus issue." Green's book challenges this view, even if only temporarily.
Embracing Cyprus is about the role of the EU as an effective mediator of the seemingly intractable conflict and military occupation of Cyprus since 1974 and the potential of European institutions to promote conflict resolution and, ultimately, reunification of the island's territory and constituent communities. The author traces her interest in the Cyprus issue to the decision of the Cypriot government to apply for EU membership in July 1990. In this, Green saw "a real opportunity to contribute to the efforts which would subsequently be made in Brussels to break the stalemate on a solution to the Cyprus problem." As she makes clear from the start, she did not intend to focus on the history of conflict. Rather, she chose to concentrate on the "potential for the evolution of a new political infrastructure in Europe, about its pressure points and its weaknesses, and to discuss the interactions between Cyprus, Greece and Turkey and the role which Britain can play in influencing the future of Cyprus."
Green's other interest was to examine the dynamism of the EU in terms of its ability "to act on issues in which it has a strong vested interest." She rejects the charge that the EU and its institutions are "hidebound, bureaucratic and moribund." As a former Euro-parliamentarian, Green can claim with credibility that the European Parliament, as "the only truly democratic institution of the EU," played a critical role in the decision making on EU enlargement issues, which included Cyprus's prospective membership. Using this as a point of departure and frame of reference, she examines events, issues, decisions, and policies through the lens of the EU as...