IN terms of population, the Republic of Cyprus is one of the smallest countries in the European Union. But now its million citizens are at the centre of a growing international crisis which will test the EU’s commitment to supporting all of its members.

On Monday, the EU took the side of Cyprus in the ongoing row with Turkey over the Turkish government’s decision to drill for oil and gas in waters that belong to Cyprus under international law.

The EU decided to bring in sanctions on the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and yesterday he replied in no uncertain terms.

Turkey is currently a candidate to join the EU and is also in discussions over the future of 3.5 million refugees inside Turkish borders. Erdogan has repeatedly warned that Turkey will allow refugees to travel to Europe unless it receives aid from European countries and on Tuesday he repeated his threat and added some more.

Speaking in Ankara ahead of a visit to Washington, Erdogan slammed the EU’s decision and said Turkey was acting in line with its rights based on international law.

Speaking in Ankara before a trip to the US, Erdogan said: “Hey EU, know this: “Turkey is not one of those countries you have come to know until now.

“We are a country that sits at the negotiating table with you. These negotiations may suddenly end.

“You may take this lightly, but these doors [to Europe] will open and these Daesh members will be sent to you.

“Do not try to threaten Turkey over developments in Cyprus.”

Erdogan has said that the drilling off Cyprus is legitimate because it is in waters owned by Northern Cyprus, the Turkish part of the island which only Turkey recognises as an independent country following its invasion in 1974.

The row is escalating and threatens to end the 2016 agreement between Turkey and the EU to curb the arrival of migrants into Europe by sealing off the Aegean Sea route.

Ireland fined €5m over huge landslide
WHILE membership of the European Union has been of immense benefit to Ireland, it found out this week that being a member brings with it responsibilities.

In 2003, a massive landslide occurred at a wind farm at Derrybrien in Galway when 500,000 cubic metres of peat was dislodged and polluted the Owendalulleegh River, resulting in the death of 50,000 fish.

The Irish government blamed poor construction methods but it emerged that no Environmental Impact Assessment complying with EU rules had been carried out.

In 2008, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decreed that Ireland was in breach of its obligations and ordered that a retrospective Environmental Impact Assessment be carried out at Derrybrien.

It is that 2008 judgment which the ECJ says was breached by the Irish state.

It said: “Notwithstanding the legislative reform introducing a regularisation procedure, Ireland had failed to carry out a new environmental impact assessment of the wind farm, thereby failing to have regard to the authority attached to the 2008 judgment.” The fine of €5 million will be added to on a daily basis with the Irish government being charged €15,000 per day until the assessment is done.

The Environmental Pillar organisation welcomed the judgement. Spokeswoman Karen Ciesielski told the Irish Mirror it highlights “the catastrophic failure by our government to adhere to environmental law”, adding: “The ecologically devastating landslide could have been avoided if a proper assessment had been undertaken.”

Iceland calls for return of its Norse sagas
IT’S all being conducted very peacefully and politely, but there is a struggle going on between two near neighbours of ours which could have ramifications for an independent Scotland.

Iceland has recently been agitating for the return of around 700 manuscripts that are kept at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, the country from which Iceland became fully independent in 1944.

The Icelandic scholar Arni Magnusson, having lived in the Danish capital for many years, bequeathed his vast collection of manuscripts of early Norse sagas to the university at his death in 1730.

Though Iceland was given a share of the collection in 1965, Iceland’s minister of education and culture Lilja Alfreðsdottir has now called for the repatriation of the entire collection which Unesco has termed “the single most important collection of early Scandinavian manuscripts in existence”.

The documents, some of which date from the 12th century, tell of Viking raids and other tales of Norse history.

According to, the jewel of the Arnamagnaean Collection in the institute of that name is an almost complete early 15th-century copy of Heimskringla — the best known of the Old Norse kings’ sagas, originally written in the 13th century by Icelandic poet and historian Snorri Sturluson.

The University of Iceland is currently building a new, state-of-the-art facility that will house its existing manuscript collection and Alfreðsdottir wants more.

But Anne Mette Hansen, assistant professor in Nordic Studies, said: “They are part of our history. They deal with sagas about Danish kings, from Harald Bluetooth to Canute VI.”

If Scotland becomes independent what should we demand back from English museums and institutions?