Cyprus talks offer unique opportunity: Erdoğan
AP photoThe re-started talks in Cyprus offer an opportunity for both parties, visiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said while addressing the crowd during a ceremony in Nicosia to mark the 41st anniversary of the Turkish military intervention on the island following a pro-Greek coup.
“Now there are signs that the [peace] process will be decisively carried out by both sides. I think these talks offer an opportunity that should not be missed,” Erdoğan said.
However, the Turkish president also reignited a polemic that erupted between himself and Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı after the latter was elected back in April.
Erdoğan reiterated his stance that Turkey must continue to be the “homeland” of Turkish Cyprus.
A war of words erupted in April after Akıncı said the relationship should rather be based on “two equal independent states.” In response, Erdoğan stressed Turkey’s role as the main “homeland” looking after around 200,000 Turkish Cypriots.
Speaking on July 20, Akıncı thanked Turkey’s president for taking part in the ceremony.
He also condemned a bomb attack on July 20 in Turkey’s southeastern town of Suruç on the border with Syria, which claimed dozens of lives.
Turkish Parliament Speaker İsmet Yılmaz said on July 19 that Cyprus’s Turkish and Greek communities must find a “permanent agreement” on the divided Mediterranean island.
“Turkish Cypriots deserve a permanent solution on the island … Turkey will provide every kind of support for peace,” Yılmaz told Akıncı in their meeting in Nicosia.
Speaking alongside Erdoğan, Akıncı, who restarted talks with his Greek-Cypriot counterpart following his election in April, also expressed optimism about the negotiations.
“We hope to prepare the ground for an agreement that both sides will say ‘yes’ to, which will protect the rights and law of both sides,” he said.
The decades-long Cyprus issue remains a major political obstacle to Turkey’s stalled EU membership application process.