ANKARA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has indicated that he would block the hopes of Finland and Sweden to join NATO unless the United Nations and world recognizes the northern third of Cyprus occupied since unlawful 1974 invasion.
Erdogan had been accused by Greece of using the idea of blocking Sweden and Finland to blackmail the United States into selling Turkey F-35 fighter jets after being barred for buying Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems.
Those undermine NATO and could be used against Greece in a conflict and it appears that Erdogan is trying to use his veto leverage to squeeze as many concessions as it can.
The Cyprus news site In-Cyprus said that Turkey was threatening to put the status of the self-declared Turkish-Cypriot republic as a condition of suporting the bid by Finland and Sweden to join the defense allliance, citing a report in the British newspaper The Daily Express.
Those two countries – Finland borders Russia – had long been neutral and stayed away from any idea of being part of NATO unless Russia’s invasion of Ukraine scared them into an about-face.
But Turkey, which strongly opposes the enlargement of the international defense pact now wants to use the invasion aftermath as a way to get acceptance for the Turkish-Cypriot side that’s isolated in the world, the British paper said.
A source close to Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, who said he won’t discuss reunification and only two separate states, told the paper the Erdogan will ask for the occupation area to be recognized as a country.
The legitimate Greek-Cypriot government is a member of the European Union that Turkey has fruitlessly been trying to join since 2005, prospects worsening under Erdogan’s autocratic rule.
Decades of UN-sponsored unity talks have gone nowhere and a long line of envoys and officials have failed as well, bringing Cyprus the dubious name of the “graveyard of diplomats.”
The last round of talks fell apart in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Erdogan and then Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said a 35,000-strong Turkish army wouldn’t be removed from the occupied side.
They also demanded the right of further invasion when they wanted, which led Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to walk away from the table but he said he’s willing to try again, rejected by Tatar.