Nektaria Stamuli wrote in the website of the American “Politico” magazine, that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan commemorated the 47th anniversary of his country’s invasion of Cyprus with new provocations, such as talking about a new city that the world considers not his right, and by announcing a new government complex and submitting a proposal rejected by the international community.
The EU will never, never, accept a two-state arrangement
Erdogan made his suggestions during a remarkable visit to the separatist northern part of the island. The visit was an occasion to commemorate the Turkish military move to Cyprus on July 20, 1974, a move taken in response to a Greek-backed military coup on the island that year. The invasion divided the island along ethnic lines: Turkish Cyprus in the north and Greek Cyprus in the south. Turkey is the only country that recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. On Tuesday, Erdogan reiterated his support for the Turkish Cypriots. He stressed the need for a two-state solution, heralded a new building process – and dampened hopes of reunifying the island. “A new negotiating process on Cyprus can only take place between two countries…Turkey does not want to waste another 50 years,” he said during a speech in the divided capital Nicosia.
It is known that the Cyprus peace negotiations have achieved little progress in recent years. Ankara does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, which is a member of the European Union and recognized by the international community as having sole sovereignty over the entire island. Last year, Turkish Cypriots elected Ersin Tatar as their leader, a choice favored by Erdogan, who insists on a two-state solution.
During his visit, Erdogan pledged to reopen a small part of Varosha, whose Greek Cypriot residents fled during the Turkish invasion. Since then, local officials have fenced the city and left it deserted after a United Nations resolution banning settlement in the area, except for its original inhabitants.
This step followed a decision taken by the Turkish Cypriots last November to open part of the closed area to the public. Tatar announced that the Northern Cyprus authorities plan to lift the military status of part of the city and allow its former residents to apply for compensation for their property. If implemented effectively, these measures could set a legal precedent in the region.
“Ankara basically wants to break the deadlock in Cyprus and force the negotiating partners to enter into a bargaining that includes recognizing the two-state solution as a possible possibility,” said Emre Becker, an expert on Turkey and the European Union in the Eurasia Group Risk Analysis Department. He adds that “this will not work…Moreover, it would reduce the possibility of holding another round of negotiations to reunify the island, which Turkey sees as a waste of time.”
The two-state solution
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in Nicosia earlier this month that the EU would “never, never” accept a two-state arrangement. On Tuesday, Erdogan denounced the European Union’s rejection of his approach. “We will not take their advice,” he said. “We will do what we need to do.”
The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell tweeted that Erdogan’s latest move “warns of an escalation of tension on the island and closes the way for negotiations.”
In another step to expand Turkey’s presence in northern Cyprus, Erdogan announced plans to build a new government complex that would house a presidential residence and a parliament building.
New Turkish base
Turkey is separately building a new military base for drones at an abandoned airport in northern Cyprus. Erdogan has previously said he sees the base as a way to consolidate Turkish power across the eastern Mediterranean. However, it refrained from launching the base on Tuesday, as expected by observers.
“The Turkish president is basically trying to score some points at home,” said Wolfgang Piccoli, co-founder of risk analysis firm Teneo. “The chances of resuming the Cyprus negotiations were almost non-existent and will be non-existent after the visit.”
The Cypriot authorities announced that they would inform the European Union and the Security Council of the matter.