Turkey will not give up its right to be one of the guarantors of security on Cyprus, where it has occupied the northern third since an unlawful 1974 invasion and keeps a 35,000-strong standing army there, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told the Greek newspaper Kathimerini.
“If there was no Turkey’s guarantorship, the rights of Turkish-Cypriots would have been exploited. To me, it is needed more than ever,” he said. Turkey used that right 45 years earlier to seize Cypriot land and established a Republic no other country recognizes.
Greece and the United Kingdom, the former Colonial ruler which still has military bases there, are the other guarantors of security, along with a United Nations peacekeeping force. The UN has refused to intervene as Turkey has sent energy drillships in Cypriot sovereign waters.
That has ramped up the tensions to near-conflict points at time and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said the army is there to stay and that the drillships will continue to work in defiance of Cyprus, Greece, the United States and the UN.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades had proposed an end to the guarantorship, offering an international police force instead, but that was rejected and the last round of unity talks collapsed at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana in July of 2017.
Cavusoglu said there should be new options but didn’t propose any as he stuck to the Turkish line that’s been the same for decades even as Turkey has blamed the Cypriot side for intransigence and repeated failure to make any progress, frustrating a long line of diplomats and UN envoys.
“Different options should be evaluated. We do not impose any of these different options, and we do not exclude any of them but let’s determine what to negotiate (…)] and then go for a result-oriented negotiation,” he said, using the same vague diplomatic language that has led nowhere.
Cavusoglu blamed Anastasiades and said the Cypriot President does not believe in political equality. There is an understanding that does not want to share anything with the Turkish Cypriot side,” not mentioning that Anastasiades offered to give Turkish-Cypriots a 30 percent share of potentially lucrative energy revenues, that was rejected.
“We say that what we are going to negotiate this time should be clear at first,” the Turkish minister said without making it clear first and adding that the drillships aren’t going anywhere, suggesting the Cypriot side has to take it or leave it.