Anxious Cyprus Waits for Erdogan’s Reaction to Referendum Win

Supporters of the "Yes" vote celebrate in Istanbul, on Sunday, April 16, 2017. Erdogan declared victory in Sunday's historic referendum that will grant sweeping powers to the presidency, hailing the result as a "historic decision." (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

NICOSIA – With unity talks about to restart, Cyprus’ wary government is waiting to see how Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will act after voters in a referendum agreed to give him sweeping powers.

Erdogan refuses to recognize Cyprus, bars its ships and planes and said he will never remove a Turkish army from Cyprus nor give up what he said is his country’s right to militarily intervene or invade further as it did in 1974, unlawfully seizing the northern third of the island.

IF Turkey wants to contribute to the Cyprus peace talks, it will not create any problems in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone or interfere with offshore energy drilling, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said, the Cyprus Mail reported.

Commenting on state radio on the Turkish referendum, Christodoulides said that, as far as the government is concerned, the ideal scenario would be for stability to prevail in Turkey, so that “the conditions are created for serious and bold decisions on the Cyprus problem”.

He added that, “Evaluating the referendum result is an ongoing process,” noting that Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci were due to restart unity talks on April 20.

With regard to the Turkish Cypriot side’s demand for ‘effective participation’ in every decision-making body, the government spokesman said that “if the goal is to create a federal state where every decision will be made on an ethnic basis, we might as well stop trying”.
“The demand for at least one Turkish Cypriot vote to ratify any decision is interpreted as the right to a veto,” Christodoulides said.

“We know a veto right on every decision, whether ethnicity-related or not, will not work.

For instance, the Securities and Exchange Commission makes a certain type of decisions. Could these decisions ever be made on an ethnic basis? Some government bodies could feature a Turkish Cypriot majority, others an equal number of members – this is not the point. The point is what kind of viability criteria we set for the new state of affairs.”

On the Turkish Cypriot community’s perspective of the Turkish referendum, Christodoulides said both communities should “consider” the result and “where Turkey is heading”.