Turkey's Erdogan rules out discussions to reunify Cyprus

President insists two-state approach is only solution

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, February 10, 2021. Murat Cetinmuhurdar/PPO/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday ruled out discussing a federal system to reunify Cyprus, insisting that a two-state accord is the only solution for the island.

In an address to legislators from his ruling party, Mr Erdogan also accused Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of being confrontational and disrupting newly resumed Greek-Turkish talks aimed at reducing tension.

“There no longer is a way out for Cyprus other than the two-state solution,” he said, referring to a peace deal that would be negotiated between two equal sovereign states.

“Whether you accept it or not, there can no longer be any such thing as a federation.

“There is no point in discussing old-solution formulas … which disregarded the Turkish people on the Island and condemned negotiations to failure for 50 years. That business is finished now.”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was expected to call a meeting next month between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and Cyprus's “guarantors” – Greece, Turkey and Britain – to judge the chances of resuming talks to reunify the island.

The island has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup aiming to unify the island with Greece.

Only Ankara recognises a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence in the island’s northern third.

Turkey and the breakaway Cypriots say a federation made up of Greek and Turkish speaking zones has been tried several times over the past five decades.

They blame the failure on what they say is Greek Cypriots’ unwillingness to share power with the Turkish Cypriots.

Greek Cypriots strongly reject any deal that would legitimise the Eastern Mediterranean island nation’s ethnic partition.

Mr Mitsotakis, who visited Cyprus this week, said Greece’s priority was to end the Turkish occupation on Cyprus and that a two-state solution was “unrealistic.”

“If they are looking for peace they should not challenge me,” Mr Erdogan said. “If you don’t know your place, then it means you are kicking the negotiating table.”

Last month, officials from Greece and Turkey held their first meeting in five years in Istanbul, after a year in which the two Nato members came to the verge of conflict over energy rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.