Turkey says it could annex northern Cyprus

  

Turkey would consider annexing northern Cyprus, which is technically EU territory, if talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots fail to reach a deal on reunification of the island, Turkey's European Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış told a Turkish Cypriot newspaper.

Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Derviş Eroğlu have made little progress in negotiations to reunite the island, divided in 1974, since the United Nations persuaded them to renew efforts late last year (see background).

Bağış told Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kıbrıs that Turkey would support any agreement reached by the two sides, but said that was only one of several possible outcomes.

Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Derviş Eroğlu have made little progress in negotiations to reunite the island, divided in 1974, since the United Nations persuaded them to renew efforts late last year (see background).

Bağış told Turkish Cypriot newspaper Kıbrıs that Turkey would support any agreement reached by the two sides, but said that was only one of several possible outcomes.

Bağış told Kıbrıs during an interview in London that the options "on the table" include "reunification under a deal that [the two] leaders could reach, creation of two independent states after an agreement between the two leaders if they are unable to reach a deal for reunification, or annexation of the KKTC [Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus] to Turkey." 

Many Turkish Cypriots oppose the notion of annexation. Turkey's NTV news channel quoted Özkan Yorgancıoğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican Turks Party (CTP), as saying the idea was unacceptable.

The division of Cyprus has been used to slow Turkey's efforts to join the EU. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is opposed to Turkey joining and German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she favours a "privileged partnership" for Turkey.

Frustrated by the lack of progress, Turkey has said if there was no solution by 1 July,  when Cyprus takes over the European Union presidency, it would suspend dialogue until the presidency passes to another EU member in 2013.

Turkey has stationed troops in the north since invading in 1974, after a coup in Cyprus orchestrated by a military junta in Athens.

Northern Cyprus is only recognised only by Ankara and its only air link is with Turkey. It is also excluded from international sport, finance and trade, and it has been heavily subsidised by Ankara.

The dispute took a serious turn in September when Cyprus allowed gas exploration drilling to commence. That prompted Turkey to dispatch naval ships to the Eastern Mediterranean, saying that any gas found would belong to all Cypriots.

Positions: 

Following the publication of the article, Cyprus' Government Spokesman Stefanos Stefanou sent the following statement to EurActiv blasting Egemen Bağış' statement as provocative and insulting for Cyprus and for the Turkish-Cypriot community.

"The statement of Mr Egemen Bağış in the Turkish-Cypriot newspaper “Kipris”, in London, about the existence of three options on the Cyprus issue is cynical, arrogant and provocative. It is, at the same time, insulting for the Turkish-Cypriot community. These statements reveal that Turkey, with its negative stance on the Cyprus issue, promotes partition and the creation of two separate states in Cyprus. We note that the Turkish-Cypriot leader Mr Eroglu has recently made statements of similar content.

Partition is not only categorically rejected by the international community, but it also does not constitute a solution either for the Greek-Cypriots or the Turkish-Cypriots, whose survival is in danger by Turkey’s illegal presence on the island. Mr Bağış’ reference to the integration of the occupied areas with Turkey is also in direct contradiction with the UN resolutions.

We call on the international community to exercise its influence on Turkey, which should respect the UN Resolutions on Cyprus and work towards the direction of the solution.

For the Greek-Cypriot side there is only one option on the negotiating table. The option of the solution of the Cyprus issue on the basis of the bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as described in the relevant UN resolutions. A solution, which will end the occupation and settlement and reunify the country and the people, Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots, in the framework of one state with one and single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international personality.

The Greek-Cypriot side will continue to work with consistency on principles and to exhibit a constructive spirit and good will to achieve this solution."

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