World Bulletin / News Desk
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Greece and Turkey had “real differences” regarding their views on the Cyprus problem during a meeting between the two leaders at the NATO summit in Wales on Friday.
The 50-minute meeting began on a positive note after Erdogan thanked Samaras for being one of the first world leaders to congratulate him on his recent election as Turkey's new president, Cyprus Mail reported.
However, the meeting quickly became tense when the two leaders began discussing Erdogan's comments during an official visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on September 1, where Erdogan called for a “two-state solution” for the island which has been divided for forty years.
Expressing support for Greek Cypriot administration leader Nicos Anastasiades in the peace talks with his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Dervis Eroglu, Samaras reportedly called more more encouragement for the talks to proceed.
Samaras also told Erdogan that any solution to the Cyprus problem would have to be in line with EU laws.
The EU recognizes the whole of Cyprus as a full member and its Greek Cypriot administration based in the south as its legitimate government. Neither the EU nor the rest of the international community recognizes the TRNC, which declared independence in 1983, and considers the northern territories of the island to be under occupation by Turkey.
Turkey, on the other hand, is the only state to recognize the TRNC and refuses to recognize the Greek Cypriot administration, which it argues lost its legitimacy after a coup by the Greek military junta ousted the island's constitutional government in 1974 in a bid to unite Cyprus with Greece, prompting Turkey to intervene as a guarantor of peace.
Although Greece is also a guarantor according to the 1960 Cyprus convention along with Turkey and Britain, Greece has not used its guarantor rights as Turkey has done. During Erdogan's visit to the TRNC, he had called on Greece to take more of an active role as a guarantor, saying the Cyprus problem would be solved a lot quicker if it did. In the meeting between the two leaders, the Greek premier is said to have criticized Erdogan's statements as undermining the talks and prospects of a solution.
Erdogan's call for a two-state solution was also criticized as being contrary to the “bizonal, bicommunal federation” proposed by the United Nations. The proposal made by Erdogan during his visit to the TRNC seemingly further polarized the talks, amid calls by the Greek Cypriot administration to abolish the border separating the island's northern and southern territories and return Cyprus to its pre-1974 state before the Turkish intervention. However, this plan is largely rejected by Turkish Cypriots who do not want to become a scattered minority in a Greek Cypriot-dominated country.
In his meeting with Samaras, Erdogan insisted on his statement, which reported left Samaras with no choice but to tell him: “Well Mr President, we are faced with a real problem here, a real difference of opinion.”
Amid the disagreements, the two leaders agreed to arrange a visit by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to Greece in late November, news portal Kathimerini stated.
Last Mod: 06 Eylül 2014, 14:52