Ghost Town ‚Picknic‘ á la Erdogan: Turkey’s Leader Pushes Cyprus Toward ‘Two Separate States’ Solution

Written by | Tuesday, November 17th, 2020

Cyprus should aim for a permanent “two-state” division of the island, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdo?an said during a visit Sunday (15 November) to the breakaway Turkish-held north, which was condemned as a provocation by the internationally recognised Greek-speaking south. “There are two peoples and two separate states in Cyprus,” he said while attending the 37th anniversary of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognised only by Ankara. “There must be talks for a solution on the basis of two separate states,” argued Erdo?an before later heading to the beachfront area of Varosha in the north, a one-time luxury resort turned ghost town along the United Nations buffer zone that has divided the Mediterranean island since Turkey’s 1974 invasion of the north.
His comments marked a further setback to hopes for an eventual reunification of the island which is split between the Greek-speaking EU-member Republic of Cyprus that controls the island’s southern two-thirds, and the north occupied by Turkey since 1974. The EU, which has threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey next month over its oil and gas exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, admitted Cyprus into the bloc in 2004. “The EU’s message is very clear: there is no alternative to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem other than on the basis of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell criticised the Turkish leader’s visit. Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades condemned Erdogan’s visit that served to “torpedo” UN-led efforts to work toward resolving “the Cyprus problem” in talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, Ankara, Athens and former colonial power London.
Meanwhile, Erdo?an’s visit to Varosha, a long-abandoned beach resort that was once the playground of celebrities and dubbed a “jewel of the Mediterranean”, has also raised eyebrows. On this occasion, local authorities announced they are to open the coastal section of the long-fenced-off disputed town in a move that was condemned as a “provocation without precedent” by the Republic of Cyprus. “In this respect we deplore today’s actions regarding” Varosha and “statements contradicting the UN principles for a settlement of the Cyprus question. They will cause greater distrust and tension in the region and should be urgently reversed”, Josep Borrell said. In the south, Greek Cypriots demonstrated against Erdo?an’s visit – and the Turkish leader‘s increasingly assertive stance – but also in the north, where many Turkish Cypriots resent Ankara’s interference in the island’s politics – “No interference! Freedom for all!” hundreds of them chanted in northern Nicosia.

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