Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has called for sovereign equality in divided Cyprus, adding that Ankara was ready for dialogue with Athens but also prepared for tension if Greece chose the latter.
Speaking during a plenary session on Tuesday at the Conference of Ambassadors, Cavusoglu said “Turkish Cypriots will no longer sit at the negotiating table just to talk.”
“They clearly conveyed this message in the last elections,” Cavusoglu added, referring to the election of Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar who was openly endorsed by Ankara, the only capital that recognizes a separate administration on the northern part of the island.
Cavusoglu also called for equal footing between the two sides, Greek Cypriots in the Republic of Cyprus in the south and Turkish Cypriots in the north, favouring sovereign equality where political equality doesn't exist.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has launched a new initiative to explore the possibility of convening an informal five-party meeting in the near future, which would include the two Cypriot sides, as well as the island’s guarantors Greece, Turkey, and Great Britain.
Choice between tension and dialogue
The foreign minister also told Turkish diplomats at home and abroad that Ankara wants to sort out its disputes with Greece through dialogue, saying the door would remain open for the two NATO allies for talks without preconditions.
Cavusoglu called on Greece to choose dialogue over tension, saying “Turkey is capable to respond to either one,” adding that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had made his country’s intentions clear in a recent message following a deadly earthquake in Izmir.
'Turkish Cypriots will no longer sit at the negotiating table just to talk, they clearly conveyed this message in the last elections'
In late October, Erdogan took to Twitter to thank Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis following an unusually friendly conversation the two men had after the earthquake, in a rare show of solidarity between the two countries.
Mitsotakis had written on Twitter that he had called Erdogan to offer his condolences, adding “whatever our differences, these are times when our people need to stand together.”
Erdogan responded to Mitsotakis’ tweet thanking Mitsotakis, saying that Turkey was equally ready to help Greece and adding that a show of solidarity between neighbours in difficult times “is more valuable than many things in life.”
But during the conference, where the theme this year was “Turkish Diplomacy at the Centenary of National Sovereignty: From Tradition to the Future,” Cavusoglu noted that several Turkish proposals based on “reasonable diplomatic openings” were still pending with Greece as well as others in the region, especially regarding an equal sharing of hydrocarbon resources.
“While the Greek Prime Minister penned letters in the newspapers of France, Germany, Britain trying to benefit from the public opinion of other countries, we addressed the Greek public with an article in a Greek newspaper. We said, you can choose either to live with tensions and escalation or we engage in diplomacy, dialogue and cooperation,” Cavusoglu said.
“The ball is in Greece’s court. Fortunately, all paths are open for Turkey”, Cavusoglu said.