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Politics

Anastasiades Wants Nod from Turkey for Cyprus Reunification Talks

NICOSIA – Although hardline Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said he’s not interested, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said he wants to see if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan really wants the island’s reunification.

Turkey seized and occupied the northern third in two unlawful 1974 invasions and decades of attempts to put it together again have gone nowhere fast despite efforts by a long line of diplomats, envoys and United Nations leaders who failed.

The last round of talks, in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, fell apart when Erdogan and then Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said a 35,000-strong standing army on the occupied side would never leave.

They also wanted the right of further military intervention, leaving Anastasides to walk away and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres the latest to flop at trying to broker a solution.

Tatar, with the support of Erdogan – who was wrangling with Akinci – came to power in October, 2020 and since then has ditched any idea of reunification and instead demanded the UN and world recognize the occupied territory, that’s isolated and accepted only by Turkey.

Tatar and Erdogan have also engaged in provocative moves including the partial reopening of the abandoned resort of Varosha on the occupied side, and Turkey is drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters, defying soft sanctions from the European Union, to which the Greek-Cypriot side is a member.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has seen Erdogan try to establish himself as a major player in the region, including saying that he wants peace, and Anastasiades gave him the chance to prove it, said The Cyprus Mail.

He said there was now an opportunity for Erdogan to show he meant what he said or “if it was not said just to creat impressions,” the Turkish President. However, making no effort to back reunification talks.

“What has been said to us, despite what the President of Turkey said … is that until the Turkish elections there is no intention on their part to take any initiative to resolve the Cyprus issue,” Anastasiades said.

“I heard the Turkish president say that he seeks peace in the region and a solution to the Cyprus problem. If this is indeed his wish, we have proved in practice that the dialogue and our positive suggestions, which do not ignore the concerns of the Turkish-Cypriots but also of the Greek-Cypriots would be a given,” he added.

DON’T DRILL, BABY, DON’T DRILL

Anastasiades, who said he wouldn’t talk either as long as Turkey is still drilling, said that he wants a new initiative from the UN, with the backing of the United States and the EU, although Turkey rejects any role for the EU.

He said he told US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland when she visited the island earlier in April that he was open to the idea of talking again but she, too, has been unable to get Tatar to budge.

Asked if Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would impact Cyprus’ hopes of becoming whole again, or finding some solution to what looks like permanent partition – which Tatar said he wants – Anastasiades told the paper that, “I have the impression that the Ukrainian crisis is an opportunity for Europe, the Americans, but also the United Nations to create conditions for resolving outstanding problems related to the causes of the Ukrainian war.”

It was well known, he added, that the EU was looking for alternative energy sources and these sources were available in the Levantine basin and in the Eastern Mediterranean, either through Israeli, Egyptian or Cypriot deposits.

“It is now even more urgent to see an initiative from the EU and the UN but also from the United States, which says it would like to see Turkey involved in the Mediterranean,” Anastasiades said.

With the US siding with Turkish objections to the proposed EastMed pipeline involving Cyprus, Greece and Israel and pulling its support, Erdogan also got an advantage when Washington said Turkey should take part in energy hunts after earlier saying that was Cyprus’ sovereign right in its own waters.

Anastasiades put up conditions that would likely be deal-breakers, including for Turkey to back off drilling and for a solution that is baed on a federal state, free of guarantors and “consequently a dependence on the influences of third countries.”

Turkey, along with Greece and the former Colonial ruler the United Kingdom, which still has bases on the islands, is a guarantor of security but there is also a UN peacekeeping force and Anastasiades doesn’t want foreign countries.

He said he wanted in March to raise the idea of the talks restarting under the aegis of the UN, EU and US but the Russian invasion of Ukraine put all other geopolitical issues around the world essentially on hold now.

 

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