Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan pledged the building of a government building complex – a presidential residence and a parliament building – that would symbolise the Turkish-occupied territory in northern Cyprus.
Speaking on Monday, 19 July, the day before the 47th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of the island, Mr Erdogan told elected representatives of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), that the world would “sooner or later” recognise their state and repeated his support for a two-state solution for the island – a proposal that the governments of the Republic of Cyprus and Greece reject. They favour a peace settlement based on resolutions passed by the United Nations (UN).
“The project work on the TRNC presidential complex has been completed and we will start construction soon, God willing,” said Mr Erdogan according to a report by Greek newspaper Kathimerini.
“This is the expression of being a state. By realizing this project some people must see what sort of a Northern Cyprus state there is,” he said.
In February, the Turkish president said the only way to resolve the dispute that arose since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974, was to create two states. Disagreements between the two sides sank UN efforts to restart peace talks in April. In 2017, similar efforts also met with failure.
The UN has proposed the establishment of a two-zone federation which had been accepted on principle by both sides.
“On the island there are two separate states and two separate peoples. The international community will accept this reality sooner or later. We cannot lose another 50 years,” Mr Erdogan said yesterday.
Earlier this month, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the European Union, of which the Republic of Cyprus is a member, would “never, never” accept a two-state plan for the island nation.
The director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) Cyprus Centre, Harry Tzitzimas, told news website Al-Monitor that the Turkish president’s announcement was not likely to be realised in the near future as the most likely outcome would be a focus on Turkish construction projects on the northern part of island that would include two military bases of which one was to be air strip for drones.
Mr Tzitzimas said that Cyprus had regained importance for Mr Erdogan as he sought to use the island to meet his wider ambitions in the region. It also served to bolster his standing within Turkish domestic politics.
Turkish press agency Bianet reported that two opposition parties in the TRNC parliament, which represented 15 seats in the 50-seat body, had boycotted Mr Erdogan’s address.
Last week, the former Cypriot Turkish leader Mehmet Ali Talat was quoted as saying: “I don’t think I will attend these ceremonies, which will potentially turn into the primitive policies of challenging the world.”