Erdogan visits Northern Cyprus: A “Provocation” for Nicosia

This Turkish announcement is not likely to ease the tensions between the two Mediterranean authorities.

This Turkish announcement is not likely to ease the tensions between the two Mediterranean authorities. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades described this Saturday as “provocation” the visit scheduled for Sunday by his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the ghost town of Varosha, one of the symbols of the island’s division. This former seaside resort in eastern Cyprus was partially reopened in early October by Turkish forces, deployed in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which controls the northern third of the island.

The visit of the Turkish leader constitutes “an unprecedented provocation,” Nicos Anastasiades said in a statement. It “undermines the efforts of the UN Secretary General to convene an informal 5 + UN meeting,” he said, referring to a meeting between Turkish and Greek Cypriots, Greece, Turkey and Great Britain, former colonial power. Such acts “will not help to create a favorable climate […] for resuming talks on the Cyprus problem”, he added.

Cyprus has been divided since the invasion of its northern third by the Turkish army in 1974 after a coup attempt to reattach the country to Greece. The Republic of Cyprus, the only internationally recognized member of the European Union (EU), exercises its authority only over the southern two-thirds of the island.

A “direct violation” of UN resolutions

The TRNC is itself very dependent politically and economically on Turkey, which deploys more than 30,000 troops there. Greece, too, condemned this visit, considering that it was a “direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions 550 and 789”.

“We intend to discuss (this issue) in depth at the next European Council meeting in December,” said the Foreign Ministry. The visit of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who wants to make a “picnic” in Varosha, goes very badly among the Greek Cypriots, some of whom had fled Varosha in 1974 during the Turkish intervention, and who could not go back to live.

Several hundred people also demonstrated in North Cyprus on Tuesday to denounce Turkey’s “interference”. Recep Tayyip Erdogan had supported in October Ersin Tatar, a protégé of Ankara, in the “presidential” of the TRNC, against the outgoing leader Mustafa Akinci, at odds with the Turkish president. Elected, Ersin Tatar advocated, unlike his predecessor, a two-state solution.

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