Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed Monday to make no “concession” as he pressed for a two-state solution for Cyprus, during a visit to the divided eastern Mediterranean island.
Erdogan began a two-day visit Monday to the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), whose independence is only recognized by Ankara.
The island has been divided since 1974, when Turkey seized the north, in response to a coup orchestrated by an Athens-backed junta seeking to annex the island to Greece.
Erdogan, whose visit coincides with the 47th anniversary of the invasion, told a special session of the breakaway northern region’s parliament he firmly rejected international efforts to reunify the island.
“On this island, there are two states and two peoples,” Erdogan said, in comments carried live on television in Turkey.
“We do not, and cannot make, any concession on that,” he said, in reference to Turkish Cypriot TRNC leader Ersin Tatar’s push at UN-brokered talks for international recognition.
In April, a UN summit failed to reach a deal aimed at resuming talks that stalled in 2017.
Tatar told that meeting he would only negotiate on the terms of a two-state solution.
His stance was flatly rejected by the majority Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus, a European Union member with effective control over the southern two-thirds of the island.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said this month Brussels would “never accept” a two-state solution for island.
Erdogan said past experiences “taught everyone clearly that Greek Cypriots have no intention of establishing a partnership state” comprised of two equal halves.
In 2004, Greek Cypriots rejected a UN plan for the creation of a loose federation on the island, pointing out that it did not include a clear right for Greek Cypriots to return to the occupied north.
The majority of Turkish Cypriots voted for the scheme.
On Tuesday, Erdogan is expected to review some of the thousands of Turkish troops in the breakaway north in the abandoned beach resort of Varosha, which the 1974 invasion emptied of its Greek Cypriot inhabitants.