Foreign Desk Report
ANKARA: If there will be a new negotiation process for the Cyprus issue, it can only be held between two equal and sovereign states, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday ahead of his official visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Erdogan travelled to the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on Monday as part of an official visit that will keep him busy for two days.The president said that Turkish Cypriots have been fighting for equality and justice on the island for more than half a century.
He reiterated his call to all parties who desire a just, lasting and sustainable future in Cyprus to seize the historic opportunity. But the visit could also further stoke tensions with Greek Cypriots and the European Union over the divided Eastern Mediterranean island, already high over Turkish ambitions in the region and its support for a two-state solution to the Cyprus dispute.
During his visit, Erdoğan on Tuesday will address a special session of the Turkish Cypriot Parliament and attend celebrations of the July 20 Peace and Freedom Day, marking the 47th anniversary of Turkey’s 1974 Peace Operation, which protected the island’s Turkish Cypriot community from Greek Cypriot violence. He will also meet with Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar to exchange views on the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and bilateral relations. Erdoğan will then attend a mass inauguration ceremony of a number of completed projects.
Every year the TRNC celebrates July 20 as its Peace and Freedom Day to mark the operation – a large-scale military intervention to protect Turkish Cypriots from the violence that struck the island in 1974. Cyprus has been mired in a decadeslong dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the U.N. to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
In the early 1960s, ethnic attacks forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aiming at Greece’s annexation of the island led to Turkey’s military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was founded in 1983. The island has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom.