Nicosia protests Tatar’s Azerbaijan meeting

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The Cyprus Foreign Ministry has lodged a formal protest against a meeting between the Turkish Cypriot leader and the president of Azerbaijan amid concerns of an escalated partition campaign.

The Foreign Ministry expressed “disappointment and regret” over the Tuesday meeting Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev had with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar on the sidelines of the Islamic Solidarity Games in Turkey.

It asked the Azerbaijani government to take “corrective steps.”

The ministry said the meeting contravened UN Security Council resolutions condemning the unilateral, decades-old declaration of a breakaway state in the Turkish-occupied north.

It argued that support for Turkish Cypriot demands could scupper Azerbaijan’s bid for a European Union partnership deal, which would need consent from EU member Cyprus.

Previous Turkish Cypriot leaders championed a peace deal that established Cyprus as a federation composed of Greek-speaking and Turkish Cypriot zones.

Tatar strongly advocates – with Turkey’s backing – a two-state accord based on the “sovereign equality” of the Turkish Cypriots with the majority of Greek Cypriots.

Tatar argues that nearly five decades of talks aimed at a federated Cyprus have failed and that a two-state deal is the only feasible route.

Greek Cypriots reject any deal that would cement the island’s partition.

Nicosia fears that meetings between Tatar and foreign heads of state are intended to secure political recognition for the breakaway north in support of a two-state deal.

It believes such recognition would encourage the Turkish side to jettison UN-sponsored peace talks.