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The Role of the European Union as a Third Party in Resolution of External Conflicts: The Case of the Cyprus Problem

31 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2002  

Ahmet Sozen

affiliation not provided to SSRN


As a candidate for European Union (EU) membership Cyprus represents a unique challenge for the Union. Unlike the other five Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) that are striving for EU membership in the next phase of expansion (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia), Cyprus carries with it a serious problem of the unsolved political conflict between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

The status quo of division on the Island raises the question: Is the EU really determined to inherit the Cyprus problem by granting membership to the Greek part of the Island? Almost all signs coming from the EU institutions show that a solution is not a pre-condition for the EU membership of the Island. However, the EU emphasizes that it prefers a solution before the final membership accession of Cyprus.

Although the EU is not an active and direct actor of the Cyprus negotiations, it changed the arithmetic of the Cyprus negotiations as a third party by offering a huge side payment - namely the EU membership for the Island. The EU, therefore, became an indirect mediator in Cyprus negotiations.

In this paper, the author analyzes the potential that the EU has in contributing to the resolution of the Cyprus conflict as a third party. In that regard, what mediating role (if ever) should the EU play to facilitate a solution in the Island before the final accession? is the main question of this paper.

First, the author provides a short background on the Cyprus conflict and the involvement of the EU in Cyprus conflict and negotiations. Second, the author analyses the track record of the EU as a third party in resolving external conflicts. Finally, the author evaluates the potential of the EU and the other third parties in playing the role of a mediator in Cyprus conflict.

The analysis regarding the Cyprus conflict and negotiations in the paper is predominantly based on survey data conducted by the author on elites obtained from field research in Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, Belgium and the UK (1997-98) and updated data of similar interviews (2001). Here, the author utilizes game theory in explaining the strategic decisions of the disputed actors and the possible outcomes of the Cyprus negotiations. In addition, the author uses archival date regarding the EU involvement in external conflicts.

Suggested Citation

Sozen, Ahmet, The Role of the European Union as a Third Party in Resolution of External Conflicts: The Case of the Cyprus Problem. IACM 15th Annual Conference. Available at SSRN: or

Ahmet Sozen (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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