Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

May Books 22) EU Accession Dynamics and Conflict Resolution, by Nathalie Tocci

The title of this book sounds rather general, but it has a much more specific subtitle: "Catalysing Peace or Consolidating Partition in Cyprus?" The second of those options, at least from the perspective of late 2004 when the book was published, seems to have been the outcome. I know the author very well, and we have collaborated on Cyprus in the past, so a lot of what is in the book is exactly what I would expect her to write; in summary, it's a very good, lucid explanation of how it was that the EU manage to screw this one up, to the point that the accession process actually encouraged Greek Cypriots to reject the peace plan in the April 2004 referendum.

Even so, there were a couple of interesting points that hadn't occurred to me before. The first was Tocci's analysis of the dysfunctionality of EU institutions. Within the EU, Greece pushed Greek Cypriot interests, and the Commission worked on Greek Cypriot accession (as this was the mandate it had received from member states, at Greek insistence). Nobody in the EU actually had conflict resolution as their goal - certainly nobody who was a significant actor within the system. There was also a lack of information inside the EU about what was really going on in Cyprus, but I feel that even if (as I do) EU officials had had subscriptions to the daily headlines from the Cypriot press, that still wouldn't have provided the necessary motivation. The EU is good at resolving conflicts among its own members, but much less so along its borderlands.

The second point which jumped out at me is not Tocci's, but her summary of John Burton's general theory of conflict: that it arises when certain basic human needs (physical security, justice, recognition of one's identity) are frustrated. These are non-negotiable; the ways in which they can be satisfied ("satisfiers", eg local autonomy) however are negotiable. Secession is not an end in itself: the real desires are for security and self-determination. The introductory chapter summarises other writers such as Zartman and Galtung, but this was the point that really struck a chord with me. I'll need to hunt out Burton's work, and also any critiques that are out there.
Tags: bookblog 2009, eu, world: cyprus
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