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16 June, 2024
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Erdogan's controversial visit to the occupied areas

Turkish President's unauthorized trip raises eyebrows and underscores key aspects of his position

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

Breaking from tradition, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan embarked on an unauthorized visit to the "TRNC" before his scheduled trip to Azerbaijan on June 13. Arriving at the illegal Tymvou airport around noon, Erdogan proceeded to occupy Nicosia, where he paid his respects at the Kemal Atatürk statue near Kyrenia Gate and left a message in the accompanying book. Shortly thereafter, he met with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar.

Notably, Erdogan arrived accompanied by a group of close associates, including Foreign Minister Fidan, Minister of Foreign Affairs Güler, and MIT Commander Kalin. Ministers of Energy and Transport, Bayraktar and Uraloglu, as well as the new head of the Turkish defense industry, Giorgiun, and officials from the AKP and Turkish presidency were also present, making for an impressive entourage.

The meeting between Erdogan and Tatar, announced officially by both the Turkish and "TRNC" presidencies, delved into discussions on matters of international and regional significance. Critically, Turkish Cypriot media reported that journalist Serhat Intsirli, known for his critical stance towards Ankara and Erdogan, was denied entry during Erdogan's visit to the "presidential house." Intsirli is currently entangled in a legal battle with Turkish Cypriot leader Tatar, who has filed libel suits against him.

Following the deliberations between the two delegations and a private meeting between Tatar and Erdogan, a joint press conference was held. During the conference, the Turkish President reiterated his support for a two-state solution, emphasizing that the recognition of the "TRNC" is essential for any return to the negotiation table. Erdogan firmly stated that there is no room for negotiation on the Cyprus issue. Echoing this sentiment, Tatar emphasized the priority of sovereign equality and the recognition of two sovereign peoples in Cyprus.

Erdogan reaffirmed his backing for the Turkish Cypriot side, citing a perceived maximalist approach by the Greek Cypriot side. He asserted that "another half a century will not be lost" and emphasized Ankara's unwavering support for the "sovereign rights of Turkish Cypriots" who will never be reduced to a minority in Cyprus.

Erdogan's visit to the occupied territories conveyed a clear message, centered around three key elements:

1. Firm endorsement of the "two-state solution" that recognizes the equal sovereignty of both parties and emphasizes the need for cooperation. This aligns with the informal Geneva 2021 talks, setting the stage for future negotiations.

2. Unwavering political support for Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, reinforcing the Turkey-TRNC relationship. Erdogan announced significant developments, such as the construction of social housing in Deryneia and progress on the Turkey-TRNC electrical interconnection, and expansion of the controversial Tymnos airport.

3. Deliberate separation of the Greek-Turkish/Cypriot issues, as Erdogan responded to a journalist's question. He expressed his desire for a peaceful Aegean Sea but emphasized the necessity of recognizing sovereign equality for resolving the Cyprus issue. Erdogan tactfully shifted responsibility to the EU, highlighting the lack of interest in a summit on Eastern Mediterranean matters.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Erdogan intends to return to Cyprus on July 20 to participate in the "celebrations" of the 1974 Turkish invasion and the airport's inauguration, as he disclosed during his concluding remarks.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  Turkey  |  Erdogan

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