Erdogan demands north’s recognition during visit

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Fresh from his election victory Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Turkish Cypriot side would only return to Cyprus negotiations on the condition the occupied north is recognised.

Erdogan was talking after a meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar on Monday during a visit to the breakaway north of the divided island, his first overseas destination following his reelection last month.

At a joint press conference with Tatar, the Turkish President said: “No one can bear to waste another 50 years.”

He announced the Turkish Cypriot side would only return to the negotiating table if the ‘TRNC’ was recognised.

Erdogan’s comments solidify a shift in Turkish policy on the Cyprus problem towards a two-state solution, clearly moving away from a bicommunal, bizonal federation that has underpinned previous UN efforts.

“The proposals presented by the ‘TRNC’ for sharing hydrocarbon resources in and around the island of Cyprus are still on the table.”

Erdogan said Turkey favours dialogue between the two sides as a guarantor power.

He also made several pledges to the Turkish Cypriot community, including an electricity interconnection with the north, at the drawing board for over a decade, but going ahead during his term.

Furthermore, Erdogan said that Turkey would be stepping in to promote development in occupied Famagusta, such as a 1,192 housing complex in the Turkish-occupied part of Dherynia, the construction of a 500-bed hospital, and a new runway at the Ercan (Tymbou) Airport.

Tatar stated that he was determined to see Turkey’s new two-state policy through until the end.

“Official (Cyprus) negotiations cannot be launched unless there is an agreement on the issue of sovereignty.

“Then we can move on to talking about cooperation that would benefit both sides”.

Tatar commented on Erdogan’s recent reelection, keeping him in power after 20 years of rule: “It was a great victory.”

He said the Turkish President choosing to visit the north on his first overseas mission was “very meaningful”.

Erdoğan’s trip to the north was overshadowed by reports that a YeniDuzen newspaper journalist, Serhat Incirli, was barred from covering the event.

The reporter had been asked to leave by security officers, informing him that he was not allowed entry into the building.

Incirli, alongside YeniDuzen’s editor Cenk Mutluyakalı, had previously been subject to a lawsuit from Tatar regarding four critical articles written last year.

According to reports, only journalists from the Turkish Cypriot news agency and the Turkish state broadcaster (TRT) were allowed one question each at the press conference.

Following his visit to the north, Erdogan flew to Azerbaijan.