Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has criticized controversial remarks by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who on Tuesday questioned the legitimacy of the Cypriot flag which depicts the entire island.
“Such comments are unacceptable,” Anastasiades said after talks with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in Nicosia on Wednesday.
The Greek Cypriot leader added that Erdogan’s comments were “undermining the climate of trust” at a crucial phase of negotiations to reunite the Mediterranean island.
“You can’t have a flag like that when the TRNC is there,” Erdogan told the 7th Annual Bosporus Summit on Tuesday, referring to the breakaway Turkish-Cypriot state, adding that the Greek Cypriots use their flag at European Union summits “without shame.”
“You are the Greek-Cypriot administration of southern Cyprus. In the north, there is a Turkish republic, you see – one way or another they will learn and understand,” Erdogan said, describing the Greek Cypriots as “rude.”
The breakaway state in the north is recognized only by Ankara.
Cyprus government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides also criticized the remarks Wednesday.
“With comments like these, the Turkish president is sending the worst possible signal at a crucial stage of the [peace negotiation] process and he only succeeds in creating more problems,” he said.
Erdogan’s comments came in the wake of his recent repeated references to the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, which set the borders between Greece and Turkey, as “unfair” and after last week’s breakdown of United Nations-backed Cyprus reunification talks at the Swiss resort of Mont Pelerin.