Erdogan urges bi-zonal solution to Cyprus problem

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's demand for a bi-zonal solution to the Cyprus problem angered Greek and Greek Cypriot leaders who wish for Turkish Cypriots to live as a dispersed minority on the island.

Erdogan urges bi-zonal solution to Cyprus problem

World Bulletin / News Desk

Turkey's new president Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke on a political solution in Cyprus during a visit to the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), his first trip abroad following his election last month.

Turkey always supports the TRNC and would only accept a just, permanent and comprehensive solution on the island, Erdogan said at a press conference held in northern Lefkosa (Nicosia).

"Those who come to us with unfair solution proposals should know that assenting to such solutions would mean the denial of our history which is impossible," said Erdogan, adding that Turkey would only approve of a deal if it recognizes the Turkish Cypriots as equal partners in a bi-zonal federation.

Turkey would “not allow Turkish Cypriots to be incorporated within the Greek-Cypriot state as a minority,” Erdogan said.

Calling on co-guarantor states Greece and Britain to increase efforts to break the stalemate on the island between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, Erdogan said “the Cyprus problem will be solved very quickly if Greece does its duty as a guarantor power as Turkey has done.”

Turkey hoped efforts made since 2008 would yield results, Erdogan added, all the while warning that “the current window of opportunity will not remain open forever.”

“Nobody has the right to use the time given by the UN and keep the Turkish side and the international community waiting,” he said.

The last time the two sides came close to a deal was in 2004 when a deal put forward by former United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi Annan to reunify the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities was defeated by a "no" vote in a referendum held in the Greek Cypriot administration. The Turkish Cypriots had voted in favor of the Annan plan.

A joint declaration announced by the UN mission in Cyprus on February 11 said a settlement between the two sides “will be based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality."

The island was partitioned into Turkish and Greek zones in 1974 after Turkey's military intervention on July 20 as the right-wing Greek military junta tried to annex the island to Greece. Currently, Turkey maintains 35,000 troops in the TRNC.

A solution would also be expected to address issues such as the constitutional framework, territorial adjustments, return of property to pre-1974 owners and/or compensation payments, return of displaced persons, and residency rights/repatriation of Turkish settlers.

GREEKS SLAM ERDOGAN'S REMARKS

The Greek government in Athens condemned President Erdogan for what they considered to be a demand for a “two-state” solution to the Cyprus problem, calling his comments were “disappointing.”

Greece's Foreign Ministry spokesman Constantinos Koutras accused Erdogan of trying to “equate certain of Greece’s international obligations with Turkey’s heavy burden of responsibility regarding the Cyprus issue.”

During the conference in the TRNC capital Lefkosa (Nicosia), Erdogan also denied receiving a letter from Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, which was supposedly sent to him at his presidential inauguration ceremony last week by Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos.

In the letter, Anastasiades had expressed hope that Erdogan would make a personal contribution to achieve a solution to the Cyprus problem which would benefit all parties.

Meanwhile, the Greek Cypriot administration criticized Erdogan's visit and said that his comments regarding a bi-zonal solution were not in line with UN resolutions.

In a statement Greek Cypriot administration spokesman Nicos Christodoulides called Turkey’s pronounced desire to contribute to reunification nothing but “empty words.”

“The repetition of statements such as ‘Turkey will always be one step ahead,’ remain, so far, devoid of any content since in practice the policies that Ankara follows demonstrate just the opposite,” Christodoulides said.

According to Greek Cypriot daily Cyprus Mail, all the Greek Cypriot political parties condemned Erdogan’s visit to the TRNC.

Turkish Cypriots in the north are determined that any solution to the Cyprus problem would be based on a bi-zonal federation in which the divide separating the two native communities will be maintained.

Greek Cypriots, however, insist that a solution would entail a return to pre-1974 conditions in which Turkish Cypriots were scattered across the island in a number of relatively small communities.

Last Mod: 02 Eylül 2014, 12:28
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