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Jack Straw claims EU was duped by Cyprus

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Former British foreign secretary Jack Straw advocates a two-state solution for ending the Cyprus problem and said the country tricked its way into joining the EU.

In an article published in Politico, he said the EU effectively presided over the frozen conflict by accepting Cyprus’ membership despite their rejection of the Annan plan in 2004.

Straw called for a two-state solution for the divided island should talks for a charter for a united Cyprus fail yet again.

“There is, in my view, only one way through this impasse.

“And that is for the international community to commit itself to a two-state solution if negotiations for a new constitution for a united island fail yet again.”

Stressing that Britain, Turkey, and Greece are guarantor states, he also called on the UK to change tactics.

“Of course, Britain cannot affect a two-state solution to Cyprus on its own.

“But what it could, and should, do is break the spell over Cyprus, put the two-state solution on the table and seek to persuade other partners that this is the best way to unfreeze this conflict.”

Straw called Cyprus one of the major money-laundering centres for Moscow, with wealthy Russians buying thousands of Cypriot passports by paying extravagant amounts of money.

“Well into the last decade, tiny Cyprus was the third largest foreign direct investor in Russia.

“The money was mostly Russian capital, which had been hidden offshore in Cyprus to avoid tax and scrutiny and was then reinvested back in Russia.”

The British politician also argued that the EU was duped into allowing Cyprus into the bloc whether it achieved a peace deal or not.

“Many of us who had witnessed this process believed there had been serious duplicity on the part of Greek Cypriot negotiators.”

A divided Cyprus joined the bloc after Greek Cypriots rejected the UN’s Annan Plan and Turkish Cypriots voted in favour during a referendum.

“We should never have let Cyprus join the EU.”

In the published opinion, Straw added: “In retrospect, we could, and should, have put Cyprus’ accession on ice at this stage and made it clear to both sides that only a united island would be allowed to join the EU.”

He said the EU effectively presided over the frozen conflict, and “in doing so, it has lost all serious leverage over Greek Cypriots.”

The former diplomat argued that Greek Cypriots were not deeply committed to reunification but only paid lip service to the idea.

“Any peace deal with the north, however accommodating to Greek Cypriot interests, will be less satisfactory than the status quo.

“The history of UN negotiations since 2004 makes my point.”

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The UK National Federation of Cypriots dismissed Straw’s support of “two states” in Cyprus as “lacking substance and disregarding historical reality, international law and UK Treaty obligations to Cyprus.”

In a hard-hitting response, the Federation said Straw “has, once again, demonstrated that he remains frozen in time”.

They argue his suggestions would render the Republic of Cyprus hostage to Turkey, which illegally occupies one-third of its territory.

The Federation referred to the veteran Labour politician’s “close links” with Turkey, including him “registering over £27,000 from interests relating to Turkey in his final years as an MP.”

“It is worth noting that Straw’s political career ended with a cash for access scandal” for which he was cleared by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, but “OfCom said in their view he did seek to exploit ‘experience and connections… for [his] own financial interests.”

“Clearly, anything he says regarding Turkey or Cyprus is not from the perspective of an impartial observer.

“Thankfully, today, he represents nobody other than himself and those whose interests he seeks to promote.”