Two states, not communities, should be present for new Cyprus talks - Erdoğan
New talks on the divided island of Cyprus should take place between two states and not two communities, Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Saturday.
The equal status and sovereign equality of Turkish Cypriots must be confirmed in order for negotiations to begin, state-run Anadolu news agency cited Erdoğan as saying at the opening ceremony of an irrigation tunnel to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey intervened after a brief Greek Cypriot coup orchestrated by the military junta then ruling Greece. Turkey justified its intervention by citing its rights to protect Turkish Cypriots, but the island has remained divided between the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus and the TRNC, which is only recognised as a state by Turkey.
Numerous diplomatic efforts to reunify the Mediterranean island have failed, most notably in April 2004, when Greek Cypriots rejected a U.N. reunification plan in a referendum despite Turkish Cypriot support.
The latest Cyprus talks held informally in Geneva last month were inconclusive due to the "intransigent attitude of the Greek side, detached from the facts on island," Erdoğan said.
In late April, representatives from the Republic of Cyprus met with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who acted as mediator for meetings with the leadership of the TRNC.
Greek Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar described their meetings with Guterres positively. But at a press conference on March 29, which followed face-to-face talks between the parties, Guterres said the talks failed to achieve their stated aim.
Erdoğan also said Turkey had delivered an annual 75 million cubic meters of water to the TRNC via undersea pipeline, noting that Ankara was determined "not to leave Turkish Cyprus in need of others," with its projects looking to do away with the risk of water shortage.