Turkish Foreign Minister arrives in Northern Cyprus

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu arrived in Northern Cyprus on Thursday ahead of international talks over the future of the divided island scheduled for later this month.

In a post on social media, Çavuşoğlu said he was in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) “to defend together our national cause (with a) new vision”.

Milli davamızı yeni bir vizyonla birlikte savunmak için #KKTC’deyiz.

In #TRNC to defend together our national cause w/a new vision. pic.twitter.com/GFheYip3Ox

— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) April 15, 2021

Cyprus has been divided since a Turkish military intervention in 1974 blocked an attempted move to unite the island with Greece. The TRNC, which administers the northern third of Cyprus, is only recognised by Turkey.

Efforts to resolve the island’s future have repeatedly faltered. However, an informal meeting of the so-called 5+1 group, comprising both the Greek and Turkish Cypriot administrations, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom is due to be held under the auspices of the United Nations in Geneva on Apr. 27.  

Çavuşoğlu is expected to hold a press conference on Friday after meeting TRNC President Ersin Tatar to discuss the international talks.

The Turkish Foreign Minister’s visit comes amid a growing row over a TRNC court decision to ban religious courses on the Koran not overseen by the state.   

The move was welcomed by some in Northern Cyprus, who say the Turkish government under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is seeking to use religion for political ends.

However, officials in Ankara strongly condemned the court decision, describing it as a “judicial coup against the freedom of religion”.