MADRID – After accusing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of wanting to take control of the island where Turkish-Cypriots occupy the northern third, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades briefly met him at the Madrid NATO meeting and said he was ready to resume reunification talks.
It was a brief encounter on the sidelines but at least Anastasiades had his ear – Erdogan refusing to talk to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis although Greece, along with Turkey and the United Kingdom, is a guarantor of security for the island.
The Cyprus News Agency said that Anastasiades told Erdogan he’s willing to try yet again to bring the island together, under the auspices of the United Nations, which has a peacekeeping force there.
But Edogan and Turkish-Cypriot hardliner Ersin Tatar have ruled that out, demanding that the UN recognize the occupied territory that was seized by two unlawful 1974 Turkish invasions.
Turkey still keeps 35,000 troops there and the last round of reunification talks collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Erdogan and then Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci saying the army would never leave and demanding the right of further invasion when they want.
Cyprus’ President told NATO leaders the division of the Mediterranean island is an “open wound” and failure to find a resolution “will pose a threat to peace and security in the East Med and Europe in general,” but Cyprus is the only European Union country that’s not a member of the defense alliance.
“Turkey should engage constructively in the effort to find a viable settlement, in accordance with international law,” he added, although Turkey only recognizes laws to its advantage.