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Politics

Cyprus Condemns Erdogan Saying Turkey Should Have Occupied Island

NICOSIA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s lament Turkey should have taken over all of Cyprus in unlawful 1974 invasions instead of just seizing the northern third drew fire from the Cypriot government that’s a member of the European Union.

Erdogan, in a speech he delivered to Turkish military personnel, said “The Turkish-Cypriots  came back from the brink of genocide. In the Peace Operation of 1974, 498 of our soldiers from all corners of the country, officers, non-commissioned officers and civilians, were martyred.

“Despite all the pressures, if it were not for Turkey’s intervention, neither the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus nor the Turkish Cypriots would exist today. In fact, perhaps if we had pushed south, and I say this as a child of the present, there would be no more south and north and Cyprus would be completely ours,” he said.

Cyprus’ government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said “The unacceptable statements by Erdogan once again demonstrate the obvious, that archaic guarantees have no place in a modern, European state.”

He added they were “condemnable … (and) provocative. For 50 years now, Cyprus, a full member state of the EU, has been under occupation following the barbaric invasion of 1974,” with decades of diplomatic failures in reunification.

He also said that Erdogan showed a lack of respect for international and EU laws, United Nations Security Council resolutions and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has sent another envoy, Colombian diplomat, Maria Angela Holguin Cuellar, to Cyprus.

“The Turkish President chooses to send a message of division, blatantly violating and ignoring UN Security Council resolutions,” Letymbiotis said. Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar rejected reunification talks and demanded the world and UN accept the isolated occupied side that only Turkey recognizes.

Letymbiotis said, “We will continue to exert all our efforts to restart negotiations from where they left off, aiming for the definitive resolution of the Cyprus problem, based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, fully aligned and consistent with UN Security Council resolutions. This is our historic responsibility and our highest national priority.”

Asked if the government believes, after Erdogan’s statements,there is still a possibility that UN envoy Maria Holguin will succeed, Letymbiotis said that “her presence on the island opens a new period in our efforts to restart negotiations,” said The Cyprus Mail.

“We will not allow anyone to divert us from this mission, that is, the resolution of the Cyprus problem within the agreed framework. It will not be solved through public statements, and we will not tolerate or accept such statements from Turkey,” he said.

Greece’s major opposition SYRIZA called on Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to respond to what Erdogan said, accusing him of going soft on the Turkish leader during a time of rapprochement between the countries.

Cyprus has been left out of the dialogue and not spoken about in an apparent attempt to prevent any resumption of potential conflict while Greece and Turkey are talking about other issues, especially sovereignty of the seas.

SYRIZA “unequivocally condemns the latest provocative statements by the Turkish president about the Cyprus issue,” it said, adding President Erdogan’s unconscionable statements clearly undermine the ‘positive climate’ in Greek-Turkish relations, which the Mitsotakis government complacently insists on.”

“Just three months after the signing of the Athens Declaration, Turkey is once more violating its spirit and letter,” SYRIZA’s statement added,  referring to a non-binding agreement signed between Mitsotakis and Erdogan to improve ties.

SYRIZA, now under the leadership of Greek-American Stefanos Kasselakis, stated that Mitsotakis should answer Erdogan’s statement with the “necessary diplomatic actions” to make clear  that “such unacceptable and inflammatory statements weigh against Greek-Turkish and Euro-Turkish relations.”

SYRIZA accused Mitsotakis and the government of pursuing an “intransparent” foreign policy that ignored the Cyprus dilemma and was reluctant to confront the often volatile Erdogan, who has ratcheted down his belligerence.

Attempts at reunification have failed for decades, the last round of talks breaking off in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriots said they would never remove a 35,000-strong army and wanted the right of further military intervention.

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