‘Two-state Deal Only Way For Cyprus Peace’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's legislative speech has drawn criticism from various world powers

It has been 47 years since Turkey invaded Cyprus resulting in the ongoing instability in the region (although the Turkish President describes this as a “peace operation” to prevent “extermination”). Three months ago, the United Nations held a discussion in Geneva that resulted in deadlocks due to the positions demanded by Ankara (Turkey) and Tatar (leader of Northern Cyprus) for two-state solutions.

As the 47th anniversary approached, the president of Turkey, Erdogan, reiterated their demand for a two-state solution in order to solve the ongoing conflict between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots in an address to the legislature. Ankara, the capital of Turkey, recognizes the Turkish Cypriot state while much of the other countries recognize the Greek Cypriot. The two-state solution as proposed aims to achieve the finalized partition and the international recognition of the created state called “the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.” The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was created in the occupied North in 1983 and is only recognized by Turkey. 

The two-state solution proposed by Erodgan in his legislative speech is a different turn compared to what had been earlier proposed through UN-sponsored talks for a bi-zonal federation and has sparked concerns. Turkey’s President Erodgan can be quoted saying, “No progress can be made in negotiations without accepting that there are two peoples and two states with equal status.” President Erodgan wants the recognition of sovereign equality and status for the Turkish Cypriots. Establishing his stance, the Turkish President can be quoted saying that “Turkey will not wait another 50 years”. President Erdogan is allied with the self-declared, nine months, Turkish Cypriot leader, Ersin Tatar.

The stance has drawn criticism from various world powers. Minister for Europe and France’s Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said the statement was a provocation to the ongoing peaceful discussion. “France deeply regrets this unilateral move which was not coordinated and constitutes a provocation,” the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The European Union also strongly opposes the two-state solution and any move to recognize the Turkish Cypriotic state as well. President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission said, “I told him that we are very sensitive in this matter, that we will monitor the progress of this visit, and that it is absolutely clear that the EU will never accept anything that refers to the two-state solution.”

The region is also home to vast untapped natural gas reserves and is a key economic foothold for both parties. In 2004, the Greek Cypriots in the South voted against a plan by the United Nations under the leadership of Kofi Annan to unite the island. The attempts at peace deals have evidently resulted in some degree of frustration for the Turkish administration. However, President Erdogan appears not to be interested in acting in line with the status quo hence his proposed solution. Given a weakened Turkish economy, the base of the Turkish nationalist supporters, and the economic importance of the disputed region (especially the southern quarter of Varosha), the outplay of the upcoming events surrounding the island remains uncertain.

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