Turkish Cypriots will never be minority, says Erdoğan
ATHENS – Anadolu Agency
“I would like to clearly express that these dreams of the Greek Cypriots will never happen,” Erdoğan said in an interview to Greek daily To Vima on Dec. 10.
“Turkish Cypriots will never be reduced to the status of a minority, as the Greek Cypriots wish, on an island where they are joint owners,” he added.
Erdoğan visited Greece between Dec. 7 and Dec. 8, becoming the first Turkish president to visit the country in 65 years, upon the invitation of Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
The president met with his Greek counterpart Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on his two-day visit, discussing future cooperation in areas such as counter-terrorism, trade, transport, energy, tourism, Cyprus, Treaty of Lausanne and migration.
“Negotiations are doomed to remain inconclusive unless there is a change toward an understanding that Turkish Cypriots are political equals,” Erdoğan said.
Turkey blamed Greek Cypriot intransigence after the latest peace initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and Britain collapsed this July.
Greek Cypriot voters also rejected the Annan peace plan in a 2004 referendum that was approved by Turkish Cypriot voters.
The Eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island’s Turks and Ankara’s intervention as a guarantor power.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was declared on Nov. 15, 1983.
Turkey’s EU membership bid
On Turkey’s EU membership bid, Erdoğan said that full membership to the European bloc has always been a strategic goal for his country.
“Despite all the double standards of the EU, we still continue to work to gain membership with good will,” the president said.
Criticizing the bloc for blocking new chapters for the country’s accession to the EU, Erdoğan said blocking the chapters did not serve as a constructive criticism.