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A two-state agreement is the only path to peace in Cyprus

A two-state agreement is the only path to peace in Cyprus

 


PARALIMNI, Cyprus (AP) The only path to lasting peace on ethnically divided Cyprus is through the international community's acceptance of two separate states on the eastern Mediterranean island nation, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday.

Erdogan said that a permanent and lasting solution to the country's division can only be possible by taking into account that there are two distinct states and two distinct peoples.

The international community will sooner or later accept this reality,” Erdogan told Turkish Cypriot lawmakers in separatist northern Cyprus, ahead of celebrations marking the 47th anniversary of the Turkish invasion that divided the island along ethnic lines.

The invasion of Turkey in 1974 followed a coup d'état supported by the Greek junta and aimed at union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence and maintains 35,000 troops there.

In a 1983 resolution, the UN Security Council denounced the Turkish Cypriots' secessionist move as legally invalid and called for its withdrawal. The European Union has also ruled out a two-state deal. European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said in Nicosia earlier this month that the 27-member bloc that Cyprus joined in 2004 would never accept such an arrangement.

But Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots say a two-state agreement is the only path to peace, as nearly five decades of negotiations based on the creation of a federation have led nowhere. They criticize the Greek Cypriots' lack of willingness to accept realities “and consider Turkish Cypriots as equal partners.”

The internationally recognized Cypriot government, based in the Greek Cypriot south of the island, says there can be no departure from the 1977 agreement to reach a formal peace deal by negotiating a federation made up of a Turkish Cypriot area and a Greek Cypriot area.

But the majority of Greek Cypriots oppose Turkey's demand for a permanent military presence on the island, fearing it would turn the island into Ankara's protectorate. .

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said Erdogan's remarks were an expected repetition of Turkey's unacceptable positions. »

The division of Cyprus has fueled tensions over hydrocarbon fields in the eastern Mediterranean and continues to pose a major obstacle to Turkey's already difficult bid for EU membership.

A strong supporter of a two-state deal, Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar also advocates for even closer ties with Ankara.

But many Turkish Cypriots oppose what they see as Erdogan's heavy hand in their own affairs, as part of his bid for absolute political and economic control of the north.

Lawmakers from two left-wing Turkish Cypriot parties, the Turkish Republican Party and the Communal Liberation Party, which together received 30% of the vote in the 2018 parliamentary elections, boycotted Erdogan's speech in parliament to emphasize the point.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Greek Cypriots demonstrated against Erdogan's visit to the village of Dherynia near Varosha, an abandoned suburb of the northern city of Famagusta which until recently was off-limits and under strict Turkish military control.

Varosha had remained empty and barren since 1974, but Turkey and Turkish Cypriot authorities last year allowed access to the area. This angered many Greek Cypriot residents of Varosha, who saw the move as an attempt to pressure them into giving up their rights to their properties.

Protester Eleni Marangou said Turkish Cypriots also joined the protest to express their desire for a peace deal reunifying Cyprus.

The people of Famagusta have not forgotten their city and are united in demanding it and a deal that reunifies our country,” Marangou told the Associated Press. “We want the powerful of this world to hear our voice.”

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AP journalist Ayse Wieting contributed to this report from Istanbul.

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