NICOSIA – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeated his insistence that reunifying Cyprus that was split by 1974 Turkish invasions isn’t the answer for the island – only for the world to accept the occupied side as a country.
He called on Turkish-Cypriots to join in that although their leader, hardliner Ersin Tatar who follows Erdogan’s lead, had earlier made the same demands to the United Nations which ignored him.
Erdogan was speaking after the occupied side was given Observer Status at the Organisation of Turkic States that is made up of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, but not Turkmenistan.
Erdogan said Turkey, which props up the economy of the Turkish-Cypriot side even while Turkey is dealing with soaring inflation, would make some infrastructure improvements for the occupied land.
He dismissed criticism from the European Union that Turkey has been trying to join since 2005, prospects worsening under his authoritarian government that jails journalists and dissidents with impunity.
“How we see the Cyprus problem is what matters,” he said. Turkey is also drilling for oil and gas off the island in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) while ignoring soft EU sanctions that exempt him.
In September’s annual General Assembly opening of the UN Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades rejected demands by Tatar for recognition for the occupied territory, dismissing the idea out of hand.
Anastasiades responded “no” when asked by Turkey’s Anadolu Agency if he was open to a two-state solution, and added: “I am open to a bi-zonal and bi-communal federation,” although that approach has failed for decades.
Asked about that, Tatar told the news agency that, “our state has already been there for 60 years. There are two states and those are Cyprus’ truths. “No one will abandon their 60-year state from now on.”
As only Turkey recognizes the occupied territory, Tatar had no standing to speak at the UN but met on the sidelines with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was at the last failed rounds of unity talks that collapsed in July, 2017 the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.
Tatar who beat moderate former leader Mustafa Akinci in October, 2020 elections, said since there have been decades of diplomatic failures to reunify the island that the only solution was permanent partition and two separate states.
That stance has essentially killed any hopes, for now, of even talking about talking about talking again as Anastasiades said he won’t come to the table again under those conditions, leaving the Turkish-Cypriots to still remain on their own.
Earlier in September, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar repeated that the only topic of discussion is recognition for the occupied northern third and for two separate states. There is also talk of outright Turkish annexations – that would mean the EU, which Turkey has been fruitlessly been trying to join since 2005, would have to permanently accept an occupying army on the island.
“We will not allow our rights to be violated, as well as those of the Turkish-Cypriots,” said Akar, adding that there’s no wiggle room for discussing anything else and that he doesn’t care what Greece or the United Kingdom, who, with Turkey, are guarantors of security on the island, think about it.
“Everyone must understand our position for two equal sovereign states in Cyprus and we expect everyone to contribute for this to happen,” he said, drawing a line there Turkey won’t cross.