Erdogan backs two-state solution, unveils new plans during visit to Northern Cyprus
ISTANBUL – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan landed in Northern Cyprus on Monday, inaugurating a two-day visit to mark the anniversary of Turkey’s 1974 intervention on the island, where he reiterated his support for a solution to two states in a context of reunification led by the UN for a long time talks.
Addressing the parliament of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Erdogan on Monday unveiled what he had previously called “good news”, announcing that Ankara would help build a presidential palace and a new parliament in the TRNC, which he declared to be built. would start shortly.
“It is the expression of a state,” Erdogan said on Monday, referring to the construction of the TRNC presidential palace. “By carrying out this project, some will see what kind of North Cypriot state exists. “
Erdogan also announced that a large park, or “national garden”, would be built in the Metehan district of Nicosia, which would include the new parliamentary complex.
The visit comes after the latest attempt to relaunch UN-led peace talks between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot governments was blocked this spring in Geneva. Cyprus has remained divided along ethnic lines since Turkey launched an intervention in 1974 following a Greek-backed military coup.
Diplomatic attempts to resolve disagreements between the Republic of Cyprus and the TRNC have largely failed since the failed 2017 negotiations in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. After years of unsuccessful efforts to resume talks, right-wing nationalist Ersin Tatar was elected TRNC president in 2020 on a pledge to abandon reunification talks and seek a two-state solution with the support of ‘Ankara.
Before leaving on Monday, Erdogan reiterated that Turkish Cypriots would only achieve lasting and enduring sovereignty through a two-state solution in the absence of renewed talks for a two-zone federation. Officials from the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, refuse to discuss the two-state solution as it would require recognition of the TRNC as a state.
“A solution in Cyprus can only be found on the basis of the facts on the island,” Erdogan said on Monday. “If there is to be a new negotiating process in the future, it can only be achieved between two sovereign and equal states.”
Earlier in July, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the European Union would “never, ever” agree to a two-state deal in Cyprus, a position Erdogan has repeatedly supported these last months.
During his visit, Erdogan is expected to inaugurate several construction projects with Tatar before observing the ceremonies marking the 47th anniversary of Turkey’s intervention on Tuesday, July 20.
Fiona Mullen, director of Sapienta Economics, a Nicosia-based research consultancy, said the Turkish government is convinced that the Greek Cypriots will never want to share power with the Turkish Cypriots and, in response, has pursued its own agenda. of support to the government of the TRNC.
“After Crans-Montana, [Turkey] has made a clear decision to make the status quo as painful as possible for the Greek Cypriots and the EU, ”Mullen told Al-Monitor. “The Greek Cypriots still don’t have a real plan on what to do about this. Every time they say no, they lose more territory.
Mullen added that the TRNC leadership is likely to welcome local development projects, but noted that there was a growing sense of unease among businesses that have traditionally supported the Tatar National Unity Party in the face of ” a loss of control, which seems to have accelerated in recent months “.
“More and more projects are managed directly by ministries in Turkey and are awarded to Turkish companies,” Mullen told Al-Monitor. “It’s not so good for the guys who have historically benefited from Turkish patronage.”
Prior to Erdogan’s visit, speculation was circulating that Azerbaijan could establish a diplomatic mission in the TRNC or recognize the separatist state, becoming the second state to do so after Turkey, after a visit by Azerbaijani officials last week. last.
Harry Tzimitras, director of the Cyprus Center at the Oslo Peace Research Institute (PRIO), said such a move was unlikely in the short term. He said the most likely developments in the coming months would focus on Turkish-backed construction projects, including two military bases in the TRNC, one of which serves as a landing strip for Turkish drones.
“Cyprus has bought back for [Erdogan] strategically important… he is implementing a plan to use Cyprus as a strategic pawn in a larger chess map he is drawing in the region, ”Tzimitras told Al-Monitor.
In 2019, Ankara began sending Turkish drillships to conduct offshore oil exploration activities near Cyprus, which Turkish officials claimed was a measure to protect Turkey’s territorial and natural rights and Turkish Cypriots. Exploration activities ended following pressure from Western allied nations and the imposition of EU sanctions on Turkey.
In more recent efforts to support the sovereignty of the TRNC, Tzimitras said Erdogan continued not only to strengthen his foreign policy agenda, but also to serve national political interests.
“Agenda [Erdogan] follows in Cyprus is to a very large extent informed by his wish to deliver to the [Turkish] nationalist public for domestic political purposes, ”Tzimitras told Al-Monitor.