Thumbing his nose at the United Nations, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the General Assembly annual opening in New York that a 35,000-strong continent of Turkish troops occupying the northern third of Cyprus – a European Union country – are there for good.
Erdogan denounced what he described as “ill-intentioned” calls for a withdrawal of Turkish troops from Cyprus and the scrapping of the guarantees system that was established on the island when it gained independence which made Greece, Turkey and Britain guarantor powers.
He told the UN that Turkey will protect the security, legal rights and interests of Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean, said Kathimerini, although adding that he is open to “win-win” proposals in which he won’t have to make too many concessions.
The insistence on keeping his army on Cyprus in the area Turkey took over in an unlawful 1974 invasion, with no other country recognizing its status – brought the collapse of the last round of reunification talks, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.
In another deal breaker, Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci also insisted on the right to militarily intervene – invade – again when they wanted, leading Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to walk away from the bargaining table.
He and Akinci are planning to meet at the UN as well but UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was at the Swiss debacle and then issued a report blaming nobody for anything, has ignored Cypriot pleas to get Turkey to back off drilling.
Greek Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is scheduled to meet Erdogan to talk about Cyprus as well as constant Turkish provocations in the Aegean and East Mediterranean where fears of a conflict have gone through cycles of rising and subsiding.
But Turkey kept it up, sending more fighter jets to violate Greek airspace over the islands of Kastellorizo and Ro, while Erdogan was at the UN making his usual bellicose statements and defying calls by Cyprus – which Turkey doesn’t recognize while barring its ships and planes – Greece and the United States to stop drilling off the island and ignored European Union sanctions.