Erdoğan may target northern Cyprus annexation by 2023, Cypriot minister says

Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides said on Monday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan might annex the north of the island within two years, the Cyprus Mail reported.

“Unfortunately, the occupied areas of Cyprus, areas in northern Syria, areas in northern Iraq are all potential targets for Erdoğan, and this is something that should trouble us and of course we are concerned,” Christodoulides said.

The minister said there was a risk of Turkey annexing Turkish Cypriot-controlled Cyprus should no solution to unite the divided island be found by 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey, according to the Cyprus Mail.

Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 in response to a short-lived Greek Cypriot military coup aimed at uniting the country with mainland Greece. The island has since remained divided between a Greek Cypriot south, a European Union member, and a Turkish Cypriot north, which is only recognised by Turkey.

Erdoğan has called for a two-state solution to settle the Cyprus problem, a policy that runs contrary to United Nations-sponsored initiatives based on a federal model. He reiterated that view on Nov. 15 during a visit to the Cypriot tourist resort of Varosha, which was left abandoned after the Turkish invasion.

The Turkish Cypriot authorities partially reopened Varosha, formerly a Mediterranean tourist hotspot, on Oct. 8 despite international criticism.

On Nov. 15, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell criticised the remarks made by Erdoğan at Varosha. Manfred Weber, a senior German politician and head of the centre-right European People’s Party in the European Parliament, said that Turkey "was not interested in conflict resolution".

"It is imperative for Turkey to contribute in concrete terms and undertake responsible actions with a view to creating a conducive environment for negotiations," Borrell said.

"The EU’s message is very clear: there is no alternative to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem other than on the basis of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions."

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry condemned Borrell’s remarks, while accusing the bloc of being  “disconnected from the realities on the island.’’

“Being used to ignoring the existence and rights of the Turkish Cypriots, the EU now dares to rule out the Turkish Cypriot people’s will toward a settlement,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said on Monday.

“If the EU wishes to contribute to the settlement of the Cyprus issue, first and foremost, it should acknowledge the existence and the will of the Turkish Cypriot people, and fulfil its commitments made in 2004,” he said.

Erdoğan’s advocacy of a two-state solution comes during heightened tensions between Turkey, Greece and Greek Cypriots over maritime borders and drilling rights.

U.S. President elect Joe Biden's incoming administration, France and Germany should work together to address Turkey’s expansionary policy in the eastern Mediterranean and other areas, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian said in an article in the Washington Post on Monday.

“We will have to address Turkey’s problematic behaviour in the eastern Mediterranean and beyond,” the ministers said.