Two-state solution only option for Cyprus, says Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday dismissed talks for a federal system to reunify Cyprus, saying a two-state agreement would be the only solution for the ethnically-divided island.

There has been no success in finding a lasting and sustainable solution to the Cyprus problem, and there is no longer a point in discussing old solution formulas that have “condemned the negotiations to failure for 50 years,” T24 news site cited Erdoğan as saying during an address to lawmakers from his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“There no longer is a way out for Cyprus other than the two-state solution,” Erdoğan said, referring to a peace deal that would be negotiated between the Turkish and Greek sides. “Whether you accept it or not, there can no longer be such a thing as a federation.”

Erdoğan’s remarks arrive ahead of U.N. plans to host multi-party talks on Cyprus in early March. 

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the north in response to a Greek Cypriot coup aiming to unite the island with Greece. Since then, the internationally-recognised Republic of Cyprus has controlled the southern two-thirds of the island, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), only recognised by Turkey, the northern third.

Erdoğan on Wednesday also accused Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of disrupting the newly resumed Greek-Turkish talks looking to reduce tensions between Ankara and Athens, following a flare-up of a dispute over hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, Mitsotakis on Monday rejected Turkey’s calls for a two-state solution on Cyprus and said ending the Turkish occupation on the divided island was a foreign policy priority for Athens.

Mitsotakis should “know his place,” Erdoğan said, adding, “If they are looking for peace they should not challenge me.”

Erdoğan and Ankara-backed Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar have in recent months called for a two-state solution on the island, a proposal Greek Cypriots strongly reject.