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28/08/2016

Turkey says it could annex northern Cyprus

Global Europe

Turkey says it could annex northern Cyprus

Cyprus map.jpg

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 Ba??? told a Turkish Cypriot newspaper.

Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Dervi? Ero?lu 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).

Ba??? told Turkish Cypriot newspaper K?br?s 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 Dervi? Ero?lu 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).

Ba??? told Turkish Cypriot newspaper K?br?s that Turkey would support any agreement reached by the two sides, but said that was only one of several possible outcomes.

Ba??? told K?br?s 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 Yorganc?o?lu, 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 Ba???' statement as provocative and insulting for Cyprus and for the Turkish-Cypriot community.

"The statement of Mr Egemen Ba??? 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 Ba???’ 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."

Background

The division of Cyprus represents one of the most difficult issues of modern times. Despite repeated efforts under the auspices of the UN to bring the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities to the negotiating table, the island has remained divided since 1974. 

Hopes for reunification were raised in 2002 when then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan suggested a two-part federation with a rotating presidency. 

In an April 2004 referendum, the Greek Cypriots rejected - and the Turkish Cypriots approved - a UN-sponsored unity plan. The plan's failure disappointed EU officials, who had agreed to allow Cyprus to join the EU that year partly in the hope that doing so would encourage a solution. In May 2004, the Greek Cypriot-controlled 'Republic of Cyprus' became a full member of the EU.

At their December 2004 summit, EU leaders agreed to open accession talks with Turkey on 3 October 2005. One of the conditions specified was for Ankara to extend a 1963 association agreement with the EU's predecessor, the European Economic Community, to the Union's 10 new member states. This group includes the Greek Cypriot state, which is not recognised by Turkey.

In July 2005, Turkey signed a protocol extending its customs union to the EU-10 states, but at the same time Ankara issued a declaration saying that its signature did not mean it had recognised the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey also refused to open its ports and airports to Cyprus, as it claims the EU has fallen short of having direct trade with the unrecognised northern part of the island.