Ero?lu, speaking at a ceremony to mark Peace and Freedom Day in Lefko?a, called on the United Nations to announce to the public “openly and frankly” why four-year-long talks on the reunification of the island had been blocked.
Cyprus has been divided into a Turkish Cypriot north and a Greek Cypriot south since the Turkish intervention in 1974. The Turkish Cypriots declared their own state, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), in 1983, but it is recognized only by Ankara. Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders have been holding talks under the auspices of the UN to reunite the island since 2008, but the meetings have so far failed to produce any breakthrough.
Further complicating the stalemate, the Greek Cypriot government, internationally recognized as representing the entire island, assumed the rotating presidency of the EU in July, sparking protests from EU candidate Turkey. Ankara says it has suspended dialogue with the EU presidency during the Greek Cypriot term.
Ero?lu said the stalemate in the peace talks with the Greek Cypriot side is “disappointing” and complained that no progress could be achieved despite comprehensive proposals from the Turkish Cypriot side to resolve issues of dispute, such as property rights and administration and power sharing in a federal, reunited Cypriot state.
“I invite the United Nations to make their assessments regarding the Greek Cypriot position in the talks public,” Ero?lu said. “It will help the establishment of lasting peace in Cyprus if the UN expresses why the negotiations have been blocked.”
The KKTC president also criticized the fact that the Greek Cypriots had assumed the presidency of the EU, saying this would harm peace talks on the island. He also called on the EU to keep its promises to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, made after the Turkish Cypriots voted for a UN plan to reunite the island in 2004 but which was never implemented due to a Greek Cypriot veto within the EU.
He said sanctions faced by the KKTC, ranging from economic isolation to a ban on participating in international sports events, are no longer tolerable and said the KKTC’s first priority would be to fight against embargoes.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Be?ir Atalay, who attended the celebrations in Lefko?a, also vowed to work to end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots. We cannot and will not accept continuation of the isolation measures imposed on Turkish Cypriots,” he said.
Turkey sent troops to the island in 1974 in order to protect the island’s Turkish Cypriot population after a coup by supporters of unification of the island with Greece. Thousands of Turkish Cypriots attended a dawn ceremony at a Girne beach early on Friday morning to mark the anniversary of the landing of Turkish troops on the island.
In a letter sent to Ero?lu, Turkish President Abdullah Gül said the 1974 intervention guaranteed the Turkish Cypriots’ right to self-govern and said the KKTC was a “source of pride” as a democratic state which respects the rule of law.
Gül also said a solution to the Cyprus issue would bring an atmosphere of cooperation, security and welfare to the entire Eastern Mediterranean region.