NEW YORK - New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, a long-time Hellenophile, denounced Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for insisting the world recognize the occupied northern third of Cyprus and accept two states there.
Menendez, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, supported Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who has rejected out of hand even considering permanent partition and recognition for the occupied territory.
Erdogan repeated his demand during a visit to the part of the island that Turkey has held since an unlawful 1974 invasion, with decades of diplomacy failing to find an acceptable plan for reunification.
Snubbing United Nations' resolutions, Erdogan also announced a partial reopening of the abandoned resort of Varosha where properties owned by Greek-Cypriots are supposed to be returned to them but Turkey said never will.
“I will say that over several administrations, we have been rather passive in my view, about this engagement and all we see is Erdogan continuing to encroach… in the Exclusive Economic Zone of not only Cyprus, seeking to do so with Greece,” said Menendez.
That was in reference to Turkey drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters in defiance of soft European Union sanctions as the bloc's leaders have been afraid to confront Erdogan in fear he will send more refugees and migrants, through Greece.
“It (Turkey) has played, in my view, a nefarious role in a variety of things in the region and unless we take an assertive role and push back, we are going to find ourselves with a significant challenge,” Menendez said.
That came as US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken blasted Erodgan for further opening part of the abandoned Varosha resort after earlier opening part of a beach but only for Turks and Turkish-Cypriots.
Blinken called the announcement “provocative” and “unacceptable.” He said “the United States is working with like-minded partners to refer this concerning situation to the UN Security Council and will urge a strong response,” said the news agency Reuters.
Erdogan was on Cyprus to celebrate the 47th anniversary of two invasions on Cyprus that were implicitly supported by the United States when Henry Kissinger was US Secretary of State.