Drawing a rebuke from the international community, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday called for an equal “two-state” solution in divided Cyprus during a visit to the Turkish-held breakaway north of the island.
Erdogan also said Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot community in northern Cyprus would no longer tolerate what he called “diplomacy games” in an international dispute over rights to offshore resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Cyprus has been divided since a Turkish invasion in 1974 with only Ankara recognising Northern Cyprus as an independent state.
Ankara does not have diplomatic relations with the internationally-recognised government of Cyprus, which is a member of the European Union. United Nations-mediated peace talks on Cyprus broke down in 2017.
Erdogan was visiting northern Cyprus after Ersin Tatar, who also supports a two-state solution, won last month’s presidential election. Tatar’s predecessor, moderate Mustafa Akinci, had backed reunification of the island.
Along with his wife Emine, Erdogan also attend a ceremony in north Nicosia marking the 37th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of the secessionist ‘state’.
Cyprus called Erdogan’s visit “provocative and illegal” with the Cypriot presidency also saying in a statement: “Ankara has absolutely no respect for international law, European principles and values, and its obligations towards the EU.”
Erdogan later visited Varosha, a beach town that has been fenced-off and abandoned in no-man’s land since the 1974 invasion.
Ankara backed the partial re-opening of Varosha just before last month’s election in a move criticised by the United States, UN, EU Greece and Greek Cypriots.