Anastasiades wants nod from Turkey for Cyprus reunification talks

NICOSIA — Although hardline Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar has said he is not interested, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has said he wants to see if Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan really wants the island’s reunification.

Turkey seized and occupied the northern third in two illegal 1974 invasions and decades of attempts to restore it have come to nothing despite the efforts of a long line of diplomats, envoys and United Nations leaders. who failed.

The last round of talks, in July 2017 in the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, collapsed when Erdogan, then Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, said a 35,000-strong standing army on the occupied side would not leave. never.

They also wanted the right to further military intervention, leaving Anastasides to walk away and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres the latest to fail trying to broker a solution.

Tatar, with the support of Erdogan – who was arguing with Akinci – came to power in October 2020 and has since abandoned any idea of ​​reunification and instead asked the UN and the world to recognize the occupied territory, which is isolated and accepted only by Turkey.

Tatar and Erdogan have also engaged in provocative acts, including the partial reopening of the abandoned Varosha resort on the occupied side, and Turkey is drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters, defying soft EU sanctions European Union, to which the Greek Cypriots side is a member.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine saw Erdogan trying to establish himself as a major player in the region, including saying he wanted peace, and Anastasiades gave him the chance to prove it, said The Cyprus Mail.

He said there was now an opportunity for Erdogan to show he meant what he said or “if it wasn’t said just to create impressions”, the Turkish president. However, making no effort to support the reunification talks.

“What we have been told, despite what the President of Turkey has said…is that until the Turkish elections, there is no intention on their part to take any initiative to resolve the Cyprus issue” , said Anastasiades.

“I heard the Turkish President say that he was looking for peace in the region and a solution to the Cyprus problem. If this is his wish, we have proven in practice that dialogue and our positive suggestions, which do not ignore the concerns of Turkish Cypriots but also of Greek Cypriots, would be a matter of course,” he added.

DON’T DRILL, BABY, DON’T DRILL

Anastasiades, who said he would not speak either as long as Turkey continues to drill, said he wanted a new UN initiative, with support from the US and EU, although Turkey rejects any role for the EU.

He said he told US Under-Secretary of State Victoria Nuland during her visit to the island earlier in April that he was open to talking again, but that she too did not. failed to move Tatar.

When asked if Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would impact Cyprus’s hopes of becoming a whole again or finding a solution to what looks like permanent partition – which Tatar has said it wants – , Anastasiades told the newspaper: “I have the impression that the Ukrainian crisis is an opportunity for Europe, the Americans, but also the United Nations to create the conditions to solve the outstanding problems related to the causes of the war. Ukrainian.

It was well known, he added, that the EU was looking for alternative energy sources and these sources were available in the Levantine Basin and the Eastern Mediterranean, either from Israeli, Egyptian or Cypriot fields.

“It is now even more urgent to see an initiative from the EU and the UN but also from the United States, which say they would like to see Turkey involved in the Mediterranean,” Anastasiades said.

With the US siding with Turkish objections to the EastMed gas pipeline project involving Cyprus, Greece and Israel and withdrawing its support, Erdogan also gained an advantage when Washington said Turkey should join the energy hunt after having declared earlier that it was the sovereign right of Cyprus. waters.

Anastasiades has put in place conditions that could break the deal, including for Turkey to give up drilling and for a solution based on a federal state, with no guarantors and “therefore dependence on third-country influences”. .

Turkey, along with Greece and the former colonial ruler of the United Kingdom, which still has bases on the islands, is a guarantor of security but there is also a UN peacekeeping force and Anastasiades does not want foreign countries.

He said he wanted in March to raise the idea of ​​a resumption of talks under the aegis of the UN, the EU and the United States, but the Russian invasion of Ukraine has put in suspend all other geopolitical questions in the world.

Sharon P. Juarez