Erdogan backs two-state solution during tense visit to occupied Cyprus

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Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, appeared to throw into doubt a new bid to restart dormant Cyprus reunification talks, saying on Sunday that a two-state deal rather than the long-established federal formula is the way forward.

Speaking at commemorations for the 37th “anniversary” of a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence on war-divided Cyprus, Erdogan said that a two-state solution must be negotiated given that there are “two separate peoples and states” on the island.

“A two-state solution must be discussed and negotiated on the bases of sovereign equality,” said Erdogan, who accused Greek Cypriots of sabotaging progress.

Erdogan and Ersin Tatar greet each other during a welcome ceremony at Ercan Airport, in Nicosia, Cyprus. Photo: Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool.

He also said Turkey’s hydrocarbons prospecting in waters where Greece and Cyprus claim exclusive economic rights would continue “until a fair settlement is reached.”

READ MORE: Turkish Cypriot hardliner wins elections in occupied Cyprus.

This approach breaks with a 1977 agreement that an envisioned deal would reunify two separately administered zones under an overarching federal government. Despite agreeing on that basis, the two sides have failed to reach an overall peace deal despite numerous rounds of UN-brokered talks.

Tensions rise as Erdogan holds provocative ‘fiesta’ in Varosha:

People walk in front of abandoned buildings with Turkish and Turkish Cypriots breakaway flags, before Turkish President Erdogan inspects the newly opened beachfront of Varosha Photo: AP Photo/Nedim Enginsoy.

In yet another gesture of complete disregard for international law, Erdogan visited on Sunday the no man’s land area of Varosha in Famagusta.

Keeping the promise he gave in October to go and have a ‘picnic’ in Varosha, Erdogan landed at the illegal airport of Tymbou and visited the area despite the bad weather and constant rain.

READ MORE: Occupied Cyprus to reopen beach abandoned in no-man’s land since 1974 conflict.

In response, the Republic of Cyprus issued a damning statement calling Erdogan’s visit an ”unprecedented provocation.”

“Erdogan’s visit constitutes an unprecedented provocation in full violation of the UN Security Council’s resolution 550 and 789,” the statement reads.

“These actions undermine the UN Secretary-General’s efforts to convene an informal five-party conference and are not conducive to creating a favourable, positive climate for the resumption of talks for a solution to the Cyprus problem.”

A few days earlier, hundreds of Turkish Cypriots also protested against Erdogan’s visit. Demonstrators carried banners reading: “No picnic over others’ pain,” “Division means corruption,” and “Varosha and Cyprus belong to all Cypriots.”

READ MORE: Rival leaders back UN bid to relaunch Cyprus peace talks.

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