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George Christou

The role of the European Union (EU) in the Cyprus conflict has been subject to much debate. Whilst much optimism existed around its role as a potential catalyst to a solution prior to the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU in May 2004, this was short-lived. Greek Cypriots, in particular, highlighted its limitations following the ‘no’ vote in the south in the referendum held on the Annan Plan in April 2004. Though from a Greek Cypriot perspective this represented a victory for those who wanted a unitary ‘Cypriot state’ solution to the Cyprus conflict, and for the leadership an additional strategic opportunity to achieve this within the EU, it also normatively transformed the politics of blame in the EU, refocusing the EU’s approach and efforts on Regulations that would facilitate the economic development of the Turkish Cypriots in the north. From a Greek Cypriot perspective, since accession the EU has served as an arena to push its own approach to a Cyprus solution under various leaderships; but membership without a solution and Turkish Cypriot representation inside has also placed profound limits on the EU’s ability to implement any Regulations or intervene effectively to facilitate the movement to an agreeable solution for the island.