NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday didn’t rule out reviving deadlocked negotiations to resolve Cyprus’ nearly 50-year ethnic division, but again rejected any deal that wouldn’t offer Turkish Cypriots a state of their own.
That position stands against a United Nations-sanctioned framework envisioning a federated island nation.
Speaking at celebrations in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north on the 49th anniversary of a Turkish invasion that split the island along ethnic lines, Erdogan again poured cold water on Greek Cypriot hopes of forming a federation composed of Greek and Turkish speaking zones as has been the aim of talks for decades.
“Everyone needs to understand now that a federal solution is not possible,” Erdogan said.
He said that Turkey does not oppose fresh talks, but that negotiations cannot restart without recognizing the “sovereign equality and equal international status” of the Turkish Cypriots.
Prompted by a coup in Cyprus aimed at uniting the island with Greece, Turkey’s invasion culminated in a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence in 1983. That is recognized only by Turkey, which maintains more than 35,000 soldiers in the island’s northern third.
Numerous rounds of U.N.-facilitated talks over the decades have focused on formulating a power-sharing agreement between the Turkish Cypriots and majority Greek Cypriots under a federal arrangement.
But Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots changed tack in 2017 when the most recent round collapsed essentially over a disagreement on whether Turkey could maintain a permanent military presence on the island as well as military intervention rights enshrined in the constitution.
Since then, Erdogan and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar have advocated for what boils down to a two-state arrangement, a position that has been condemned by the European Union and other countries.
In a written statement, the Cypriot Foreign Ministry condemned Erdogan’s remarks as undermining efforts for a peace deal, and it said his inauguration of a new airport terminal in the north was aimed at augmenting the north’s dependence on Turkey.
Greek Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides continues to push hard for a resumption of talks from where they left off in 2017, petitioning EU and other leaders to put pressure on Turkey.
He wants a more active EU engagement in peace talks to leverage the benefits Turkey could gain from the bloc in the event of a Cyprus deal. Cyprus joined the EU in 2004, but only the Greek Cypriot south enjoys full membership benefits.
Christodoulides has rejected any chance for shifting the basis of negotiations from anything other than a federal deal.
“I want to make it abundantly clear that anything leading to a different type of solution other than the agreed-upon framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation isn’t even up for discussion,” he said last week.
A Cyprus peace deal would remove a long-standing obstacle in the way of stability in the natural gas rich eastern Mediterranean and bolster NATO’s southeastern flank.
Source : APNews