NICOSIA – US Sen. Robert Menendez, in a visit to Cyprus' capital, said insistence by the occupying Turkish-Cypriot side for two states and recognition for the isolated area won't fly.
The New Jersey Democrat is Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a strong backer of Cyprus, whose northern third was seized by two unlawful Turkish invasions in 1974.
The new hard line leader of the Turkish-Cypriot side, Ersin Tatar, said he won't even talk about the idea of reunification which has failed so many times over the decades that Cyprus has become known as “the graveyard of diplomats.”
Tatar said he will present that demand in the September opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York and that he still hopes to be able to talk there with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades who said he won't discuss two states.
Tatar is following the lead of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who helped him beat incumbent Mustafa Akcini, a moderate, in October, 2020 elections.
Mendendez said that Erdogan's “retrograde vision” to seal Cyprus’ ethnic divide by striving for a two-state deal “is wrong” for all Cypriots.
He said that a peace accord for Cyprus based on two separate states “flies in the face” of UN Security Council resolutions as well a decades-old arrangement between Greek and Turkish Cypriot negotiators to reunify Cyprus as a federation.
Speaking after receiving Cyprus’ highest honor – the Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios III – Anastasiades at a ceremony, Menendez said Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots could strike a reunification deal if left to negotiate on their own, a tactic that has never worked.
Only Turkey recognizes a self-declared Turkish-Cypriot republic where it keeps a 35,000-strong standing army that will never be removed, which scuttled the last round of reunification talks in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.
eclaration of independence and maintains more than 35,000 troops in the north.
Menendez has been a vocal proponent of negotiations and a strident critic of what Greek-Cypriots say are Turkey’s attempts to steer the talks toward achieving its ambition for regional control by keeping a permanent troop presence on the island and the right to militarily intervene once again.
“My goal is to see the last Turkish soldier leave the island,” Menendez also said.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)