Newly-elected in snap polls that gave him near-dictatorial powers, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will visit the northern third of Cyprus that’s been occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion, his first overseas trip since winning again.
He has led Turkey since 2003, serving as Prime Minister until 2014 and as President since with no indication he wants to ever let go his growing control of the country and as he has tried to squash media opposition and dissent, including by jailing critical journalists without real denunciation by the European Union he wants to join.
After his inauguration ceremony on July 9, he’s expected to to arrive at Mia Milia (Haspolat) in northern Nicosia, the divided Capital, where he will officiate over the grand opening of Hala Sultan Mosque, according to DHA news agency.
The mosque is located on the main road outside the part of the city controlled by Turkey and is said to have a capacity of 6,000 people.
Despite his return to power, the legitimate Cypriot government of President Nicos Anastasiades said he doesn’t expect he will move to try to resurrect unity talks that collapsed a year ago at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.
Those talks fell apart when Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said they would never remove an army in the occupied territory and wanted the right to militarily intervene – invade – again when they wanted.
Turkey also refuses to recognize Cyprus, which belongs to the EU, and bars its ships and planes and has seen accession hopes dwindle to almost nothing, leading Erdogan to become more provocative and keep warships off the island’s coast to try to block foreign energy companies from looking for oil and gas in waters where they are licensed to drill.
Only Turkey recognizes the self-declared Republic on the island, leaving it isolated from the rest of the world and with unification hopes repeatedly dashed.
Turkey is still in a State of Emergency that Erdogan declared after a failed coup attempt against him two years ago, which saw him purge civil society and the military and step up provocations in the Aegean against Cyprus and Greece.