The Cyprus issue is a European problem and the lead in solving it should come, this time, from Europe. Especially in the "pre-accession" phase it is more and more important to approach European as well as world leaders on this issue. But, as is well known, the EU is a non-unitary actor and the centre of gravity there is not easily tractable. The question may therefore arise, whom best to target for a lobbying campaign.
Within the EU, as distinct from the Member States, no less than three different institutional actors can be approached, because it is the European Commission who negotiates accession, and the Council who, together with the European Parliament decides on the conclusion of accession treaties. Importantly, however, a treaty of accession is concluded not between the candidate country and the EU or the EC (they are not constitutionally empowered to do this) but between the acceding country and the individual Member States. If one of the Member States does not accept the treaty, it cannot take effect. It therefore takes only one Member State, however small, to prevent a controversial treaty from entering into force, and 15 to accept it. In none of the institutions does the TRNC have official diplomatic contacts. As there are various ways to bring any valuable points home to the relevant policy makers, however there is a wide range of options. If the TRNC can afford it, it should conduct the widest possible lobbying campaign using all the channels, formal and informal, that are available.
The Council as a whole is not the easiest institution to try and influence, because in all important questions its decisions require the consensus of all the Member States, including Greece. Again, the opposition of one Member State representative in Council can prevent an accession proposal from being accepted. In comparison with the Commission, the Council is not easy to "catch", as it is in more than one sense a composite organ, and its officials are possibly less, or at least less permanently involved with international negotiations than those of the Commission. The Commission, while being the institution who initiates and negotiates accession, is however dependent for its negotiating briefs on the views of the Member States within the Council.
By contrast, the country of Presidency may be a good starting point to concentrate one's efforts on. The Presidency plays a leading role in EU external relations. The country of Presidency may have to be reminded of its responsibilities with respect to producing a positive contribution to enhancing the security in the region. Since the Presidency rotates, it requires some foresight on the part of interested lobbyists to make out which country would be willing and able to make an active contribution to the problem, and not everything can be foreseen because, as is seen by the Kosovo crisis, the agenda of a Presidency may suddenly be overtaken by imminent international crises. In addition, contact points will have to be used in all the other Member States. Perhaps the help of representatives of Turkey can be enlisted or its embassies used for support. Needless to say, this cannot be improvised but needs to be thoroughly prepared.
Under Article 18(3) TEU as amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam, the Presidency is now to be assisted by the Secretary General of the Council of the European Union, in his new function as the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy. This function is still in development, but it is widely anticipated that in the foreseeable future, "Mr CFSP" will be able to provide a more permanent focus for the foreign policy of the Union, much more than the rotating Presidency, and bring some continuity in the formulation of EU standpoints.40 Arguably, this will also result in greater consistency of policies and coherence in the representation of the Union in matters of foreign affairs. In Article 26 TEU, his tasks are widely defined as assisting the Council in foreign policy matters, helping to draw up policy and deal with foreign partners.41 Article 26 TEU expressly allows "Mr CFSP" to engage in political dialogue with "third parties": this therefore does not prejudice any questions of recognition of governments or States.
The European Parliament is an equally important institution where informal lobbying could pay off. Although the EP as a whole has never been of any support to the TRNC, certain sections of the Parliament will have an open attitude towards the Turkish Cypriot problem, given their concern for human rights and the protection of (minorities and) peoples in general. According to Article 49 TEU, the EP needs to give its assent to any accession of new Member States to the EU. But lobbying the Parliament cannot wait until then. If for instance one had to lobby against an accession treaty with the Republic of Cyprus, that would rather be like "fishing behind the net". As it would currently take 314 Members voting against Cyprus accession, recruiting those votes seems a daunting task. It may be easier to induce Parliamentarians to influence the Council or to try and prevent the Commission, via the normal channels of political debate and questioning, from tabling an unacceptable proposal in the first place. Again, this needs to be thoroughly prepared.
The help of Turkey in support of a successful lobby of the TRNC should be enlisted to reinforce the search for a solution. They too need to be convinced of the importance of the Cyprus problem and of the need to actively to contribute towards a solution. But it is natural that they insist on linking Cyprus and Turkish accession.
If there is no solution, there is a risk in all this that the island itself falls between the cracks. Wishful thinking is no option and a constructive attitude imperative.
40 The Secretary General of the Council, is a permanent position, currently filled by Xavier Solana, the former NATO Secretary-General.
41 "EU Sees Double over Foreign Affairs", in: European Voice, 14-20 Oct. 1999, at 10.