Cypriot talks can only resume on two-state basis, says Erdogan

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan poses for a photo with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (not pictured) during the NATO summit at Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, June 14, 2021. Kenzo Tribouillard / Pool via REUTERS

NICOSIA, July 20 (Reuters) – Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that peace talks over the future of ethnically divided Cyprus could only take place between “the two states” of the Mediterranean island.

In a speech in the divided Cypriot capital of Nicosia, Erdogan reiterated Turkey’s position in a dispute that is damaging Turkey’s relations with the European Union and Greece. Read more

Turkey is the only country to now recognize the northern Cyprus breakaway. He says the only viable option to heal decades of estrangement is for rival Greek Cypriots and the international community to accept the existence of two sovereign entities.

The Greek Cypriots, who represent the island internationally and are supported by the EU, reject a two-state deal that would imply sovereign status for a separatist state they consider illegal.

“The new negotiation process can only be conducted between the two states. We are right and we will defend our rights to the end,” Erdogan said.

Cyprus was divided in a Turkish invasion on July 20, 1974, five days after a Greek Cypriot coup organized by the ruling military junta in Greece.

Flaunting red and white Turkish and Turkish Cypriot flags, the festive mood in northern Nicosia contrasted sharply with the somber mood in the south, where the Greek Cypriots were awakened by air raid sirens marking the day the forces Turks landed 47 years ago. .

The United Nations has been inconclusive in tackling the Cypriot conflict for decades.

The latent dispute is now more to the point due to competing claims over offshore energy reserves and the recent reopening by Turkish Cypriots of part of Varosha, a ghost resort that was the hub of the tourism industry. of Cyprus before the war.

Reporting by Jonathan Spicer, written by Michele Kambas, editing by Timothy Heritage

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