NICOSIA – Even an earthquake couldn’t bring Turkey to recognize Cyprus, reportedly refusing offers of help in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that saw a number of countries dispatch rescuers and other crews to help, including Greece.
Cyprus said it also offered to help in rescue efforts to try to find people trapped in the rubble after the earthquake that killed more than 7,100 people but that it was rejected out of hand.
Cyprus Foreign Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Kornelios Korneliou told the Cyprus News Agency that, “We conveyed this readiness through the European Civil Protection Mechanism and the Greek-Cypriot negotiator, Menelaos Menelaou,” who had been handling reunification talks with the occupying Turkish side.
“Following consultation with the Civil Defence, we expressed our readiness to assist with a rescue team of 21 people and … they replied ‘no thanks’,” said Korneliou, but no reason was given from Turkey, which needs the help.
He said that Menelaou told the Special Representative of the occupying Turks on Cyprus, Ergün Olgun, “our desire and readiness to assist in the rescue efforts”, but “we were told that they do not need our help” finding people.
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said the offer of help was rejected “as the needs, at least at this stage, require the immediate deployment of heavy-duty specialized rescue teams.”
A search and rescue team of the Cyprus Civil Defence stands ready to travel to Turkey to assist following Civil Defense Spokesperson Panayiotis Liasides told the news agency about it.
The problem is that Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus, a member of the European Union that Turkey has fruitlessly been trying to join since 2005, prospects worsening under the authoritarian rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey also refuses to allow Cypriot ships and planes to use its airports and harbors, which would exclude Cyprus sending air through those routes, also signaling relations will not get better even temporarily.