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Politics

On Invasion Anniversary, Erdogan Wants Cyprus Permanent Solution

July 20, 2020

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used the 46th anniversary of his country's unlawful 1974 invasion of Cyprus to call for reunification of the island he doesn't recognize and as he continues to bar its ships and planes.

"A fair, permanent solution on Cyprus is only possible with the acceptance of equal status for Turkish Cypriots," Erdogan wrote in a statement to the state-run Anadolu News Agency without offering one.

Turkey calls the invasion a peace operation in response to what it says was an attempted coup by Greece to bring enosis, or unity and Turkey has a 30,000-strong army on the occupied northern third.

Cyprus is a member of the European Union that Turkey has been trying to join since 2005, the 15-year wait growing longer after Erdogan jailed journalists and purged civil society, the military and courts after a failed 2016 coup attempt against him.

Turkey is also unlawfully drilling for energy in Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ,) claiming some of the waters near where foreign companies were licensed by the legitimate government to look for oil and gas.

Erdogan said Cypriots must acknowledge the political equality of Turkish-Cypriots who are a minority making up about 18 percent of the island's overall population of 1,207,819 as of this year but the Turkish side wants equal representation.

The occupied Turkish side each July 20 marks the anniversary of the invasion it said was done to protect them from violence by Cypriots trying to thwart the incursion of masses of Turkish troops.

“Turkey's military intervention stopped years-long persecution and violence against Turkish Cypriots by ultra-nationalist Greek Cypriots,” the news agency said.

Erdogan congratulated Turkish-Cypriots on the occasion, "which ultimately eliminated the attempt to harm the law, freedom and existence of Turkish Cypriots, the co-owners of the island."

"This operation has shown the world what Turkish-Cypriots can risk when their fundamental rights are violated, their freedom is threatened, and their presence and survival are intended to be harmed,” he said.

"Turkish Cypriots… are struggling for equality for more than 50 years… [have] fought despite all kinds of pressures and threats, and claimed their rights and freedom,” and as he called for a solution he warned Turkey would use its might if needed.

The last round of reunification talks collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said they would never remove the army and wanted the right to invade again.

That was a deal breaker for Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades who nevertheless offered 30 percent of potentially lucrative energy revenues to the Turkish-Cypriot side which rejected it, demanding a say in policy and licensing of foreign companies in the EEZ.

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