NICOSIA – Cyprus’ new President Nikos Christodoulides reached out to the European Union to participate in negotiations for the reunification of the island, which was split by Turkish invasions in 1974. However, Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, a hardliner who follows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, dismissed the proposal and demanded that the world recognize the self-declared republic in the northern third of the island.
According to Turkey’s pro-government newspaper The Daily Sabah, a statement from the Turkish-Cypriot ministry said, “Christodoulides’ suggestion is the recurring manifestation of the Greek Cypriot policy we have been facing for decades. The EU’s pro-Greek attitude in the crisis has blocked an acceptable agreement and served to perpetuate the status quo.”
The statement added that the EU is using financial aid as an instrument against Turkish-Cypriots and that it was time for them to reconsider their ties with the EU and endeavor to pull them to a respectable level.
Christodoulides, a former foreign minister involved in reunification talks, wants talks to focus on the idea of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in line with a United Nations framework, with a greater role for the EU. However, Tatar rejected this idea and emphasized that there was no natural mechanism to unite the two sides.
After a recent hand-shaking photo opportunity between Christodoulides and Tatar, no serious discussions seem to be coming until after the May 14 elections in Turkey, where Erdogan faces a challenge. The last round of talks collapsed in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana after the Turkish side said it would never remove its 35,000-strong army.