The third official in the US State Department, Victoria Nuland, confirmed on Wednesday that the United States rejects a proposal repeated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in recent days for a two-state solution in Cyprus.
Urgently asked during a parliamentary session to say clearly whether the US government rejects such a proposal, she replied, “Yes, of course.” “We believe that only a bilateral mechanism led by Cypriots can bring peace and stability to Cyprus,” she added.
During a speech in northern Nicosia on Tuesday, Erdogan stressed that “it is not possible to make progress in negotiations without recognizing the existence of two peoples and two states” on the island divided since the Turkish army invaded its northern third in 1974.
The Republic of Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, whose gains are limited to the southern part of the island, where Greek Cypriots live and is ruled by an authority that is the only one recognized in the United Nations. In the north, only Ankara recognizes the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”.
Erdogan visited the northern part of Cyprus to commemorate the 47th anniversary of his invasion from Turkey, in response to an attempted coup aimed at annexing the island to Greece. He accused the Greek Cypriots of “blocking any solution”.
During the visit, he stressed that “life will resume” in Varosha, the coastal ghost town whose residents fled in 1974 and was besieged by the Turkish army with barbed wire, reiterating his call to the Greek Cypriot owners to demand, through a Turkish Cypriot committee, compensation for the loss of their property.
The US position came shortly after the French Foreign Ministry condemned Erdogan’s statements. “France deeply regrets this unilateral step, which was not coordinated and represents a provocation,” she said in a statement.
The United Nations, which is in charge of monitoring the buffer zone, tried to revive the stalled negotiations between the two parties in April, but it failed.
The last round of negotiations under its auspices, on the principle of reunification of the island in the form of a federation, took place in Switzerland in July 2017.
This comes as the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, confirmed, in a statement, at dawn on Wednesday, that the United States condemns a declaration issued on Tuesday that stipulated the transfer of parts of an abandoned town in Cyprus to the control of Turkish Cypriots, while France expressed its support for Cyprus after Turkish steps towards the city. Abandoned, accusing the Turkish president of “provocation”.
Washington condemned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s announcement to reopen Varosha, the ghost town in eastern Cyprus, which was abandoned by its original Greek Cypriot residents nearly half a century ago, and the Turkish Cypriots today, with the support of Ankara, want to reopen it under their administration.
“The United States considers the actions of the Turkish Cypriots in Varosha, with the support of Turkey, to be provocative, unacceptable and inconsistent with the commitments they made in the past to engage constructively in peace talks,” Blinken said in his statement.
“We urge the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey to reverse the decision they announced today and all the steps that have been taken since October 2020” in the abandoned tourist resort, he added.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken
“The United States is working with like-minded partners to refer this troubling situation to the United Nations Security Council, and we will urge a strong response,” the statement noted.
“We stress the importance of avoiding provocative unilateral actions that increase tensions on the island and impede efforts to resume Cyprus settlement talks in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions,” he added.
The US Secretary reiterated the US position “in support of a comprehensive settlement led by the Cypriots to reunite the island within the framework of a bi-regional and inter-communal union for the benefit of all Cypriots and the region.”
Jean-Yves Le Drian
For his part, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian expressed his support for Cyprus, Wednesday, after the Turkish Cypriot authorities announced the partial reopening of the abandoned city for possible resettlement, which drew strong criticism from the Greek Cypriots.
Le Drian said that he discussed the matter yesterday with his Cypriot counterpart, and that he would raise the issue at the United Nations, accusing Erdogan of “provocation.”
“France deeply regrets this uncoordinated unilateral step and represents a provocation,” he said in a statement, adding that “it undermines the restoration of confidence necessary for the urgent resumption of negotiations for a just and lasting solution to the Cyprus issue.”
The Cypriot city of Varosha has been deserted since a war in 1974 divided the island.
On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed his adherence to a two-state solution in Cyprus, in a strongly worded speech he delivered during a visit to the northern part of Cyprus on the 47th anniversary of the Turkish invasion that led to the division of the Mediterranean island.
“We don’t have 50 years to waste,” he told a crowd during a military parade in the northern part of the capital, referring to decades of UN-sponsored negotiations that failed to unify the Greek and Turkish Cypriot parts of the island.
He added: “It is not possible to make progress in the negotiations without recognizing the existence of two peoples and two states.”
He considered that “a new negotiation process can only be resumed between two countries,” adding, “For this, the sovereignty and equal status of the Turkish Cypriots must be confirmed. This is the basis for a solution.”
Amid cheers from the crowd waving Turkish flags, Erdogan accused the Greek Cypriot authorities of “blocking any solution” by adopting an “extremist approach… detached from reality.”
He dismissed a warning this month from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that Brussels “will not accept” a two-state solution for Cyprus, a member of the European Union.
However, European Union Foreign Minister Josep Borrell expressed, on Tuesday, his “concern” about Erdogan’s announcement, considering it “unacceptable.”
“The European Union reiterates the need to avoid unilateral steps contrary to international law and new provocations that could increase tensions on the island and threaten the resumption of negotiations with the aim of reaching a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue,” Borrell said in a statement.
In the evening, the Turkish Foreign Ministry responded to Borrell in a statement, in which it considered that the European Union’s criticism of Erdogan was “null and null.”
In contrast to the celebrations in the northern part, the sirens sounded in the southern part of Nicosia at 5:30 (2:30 GMT), reminding the start of the Turkish invasion on July 20, 1974.
Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish army invaded its northern third in 1974. The Republic of Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, whose gains are limited to the southern part of the island where Greek Cypriots live and is governed by an authority that is the only one recognized in the United Nations. In the north, only Ankara recognizes the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”.
Varosha, which was often a destination for tourists who used to enjoy its clear waters and bustling evenings, has for decades become a desolate city surrounded by barbed wire, and uses a negotiating card.
And reopening it is a red line for the Greek Cypriot authorities. But the Turkish army reopened parts of its beach last year, weeks before the election of Tatars.
Erdogan had visited Varosha in a move that the Republic of Cyprus denounced as an “unprecedented provocation.”