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EU Foreign Chief Says Erdogan's Cyprus Visit Undercut Unity Hopes

Αssociated Press

Turkey s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stands during a wreath-laying ceremony at the monument of Turkey s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, in Nicosia, Northern Cyprus, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. (Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool)

BRUSSELS -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's call for a two-state solution as he visited the divided island of Cyprus undermined hopes to reunify the island, the European Union's foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell said.

But speaking carefully so as not to tread too heavily on Erdogan, whom the EU fears will unleash hordes of refugees and migrants on the bloc – through Greece – is provoked too much, Borrell said the answer is diplomacy using United Nations resolutions which have failed for four decades.

Erdogan went to the abandoned resort of Varosha on the northern third of the island occupied since an unlawful 1974 invasion, parts of which he reopened in defiance of other EU resolutions, wanting the Turkish-Cypriot side recognized.

“These (actions) will cause greater distrust and tension in the region and should be urgently reversed,” Borrell said in a written statement, commonly done to avoid facing reporters.

Erdogan had opened part of the beach in October to give a boost in elections for a new Turkish-Cypriot leader to his favored choice, self-declared premier Ersin Tatar – a hardline loyalist – who ousted incumbent Mustafa Akinci.

Borrell said the developments in Varosha came at a time when attempts to create space for dialogue are ongoing, and the speedy resumption of negotiations under the auspices of the UN for a comprehensive settlement and re-unification is needed on the basis of progress achieved so far,” said Kathimerini.

“No actions should be carried that are not in accordance with these resolutions… It is imperative for Turkey to contribute in concrete terms and undertake responsible actions with a view to creating a conducive environment for negotiations,” he said.

“The EU’s message is very clear: there is no alternative to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem other than on the basis of relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” he added.

Erdogan, who has Turkish drill ships hunting for energy in Cypriot waters in defiance of soft EU sanctions, has shown he doesn't care one iota what anyone in the international community thinks as he forges ahead with his agenda.

Manfred Weber, a senior German conservative and head of the center-right European People’s Party, jumped on the criticism of Erdogan and said the visit to Varosha  and said, “Turkey has again shown it is not interested in conflict resolution,” in a tweet.

“Worse: Erdogan is trying to split an EU member state in half,” he said, adding that the issue had to be discussed at the European Council “and it must have consequences,”: the bloc showing it has no stomach to tangle with Erdogan.

“There are two separate peoples, two separate democratic systems and two separate states in Cyprus today,” Erdoğan said in a speech, reported the news site Politico of his visit.

“For years, we have argued that there should be a chance for cooperation regarding energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey and Northern Cyprus will no longer tolerate “diplomacy games” over rights to offshore resources, using the name only Turkey calls the occupied part.

He attended a parade to celebrate 37 years since the unilateral declaration of independence of the occupied side that only Turkey recognizes while trying since 2005 to join the EU – to which Cyprus belongs.

A large crowd waved flags gathered to welcome him to the area although the report said there were a few hundred protesters holding banners reading  reading “no picnic over pain,” even though demonstrations were banned.

That was in reference to his boast after the beachfront was reopened that he would go there to have a picnic as the EU has done nothing and the UN has said nothing to stop him.

The legitimate government of Cyprus called the visit “provocative and illegal” and said “Ankara has absolutely no respect for international law, European principles and values, and its obligations towards the EU.”