NEWS

Athens condemns Erdogan comments about Cyprus

Athens reacted angrily on Monday to calls by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a “two-state” solution to the Cyprus problem and claims that Greece is not “doing its duty” as a guarantor power, saying the comments were “disappointing” and “simply confirm Ankara’s persistence in its aggressive policy” on Cyprus.

Addressing a joint news conference in the Turkish-occupied north of Nicosia with Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, Erdogan opposed the prospect for a settlement based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation.

Sources said Erdogan denied receiving a letter from Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, which was delivered to him at his inauguration ceremony in Ankara last week by Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos.

On arriving in the occupied north of the island, Erdogan said Turkey would “not allow Turkish Cypriots to be incorporated within the Greek-Cypriot state as a minority” and called on Greece and Britain to intensify efforts to break the deadlock, claiming that “the Cyprus problem will be solved very quickly if Greece does its duty as a guarantor power as Turkey has done.”

He added that Ankara would allow the reopening of a former Greek Orthodox seminary near Istanbul if Athens permitted the construction of traditional mosques with minarets in the capital and allowed Muslim communities in Thrace, northern Greece, to directly appoint muftis.

In a strongly worded statement issued in response, Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Constantinos Koutras accused Erdogan of trying to “equate certain of Greece’s international obligations with Turkey’s heavy burden of responsibility regarding the Cyprus issue” and described the parallel as “historically and legally groundless and, thus, politically unacceptable.”

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