Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan promised Turkish Cypriots on Monday that Turkey would build a new government complex to symbolize the Turkish-occupied “state” of northern Cyprus, which he said the world would “sooner or later” recognize despite near universal opposition for now.
Erdogan made the pledge in a speech to elected representatives of the self-styled “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (TRNC), which is only recognized by Ankara, reiterating his support for a two-state solution to the island’s division.
Greek Cypriots – the island’s internationally recognized government and an EU member – refuse to discuss a two-state formula as it implies recognition of the self-styled statelet.
“The project work on the TRNC presidential complex has been completed and we will start construction soon, God willing,” Erdogan said, adding that the complex would include a new parliament.
“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.
The east Mediterranean island of Cyprus was split in two in 1974 in a Turkish invasion, exactly 47 years ago on Tuesday, following a brief Greek-inspired coup.
Erdogan said in February the only way to resolve the dispute was to establish two states, but the leaders of Greece and the Greek Cypriot government reject this, saying they would only accept a peace deal based on UN resolutions.
“On the island there are two separate states and two separate peoples. The international community will accept this reality sooner or later,” he said on Monday. “We cannot lose another 50 years.”
In April, the United Nations failed to bridge disagreements over restarting peace talks between the two sides, which collapsed in acrimony in 2017.
Cyprus’ split is a constant source of tension between NATO allies Greece and Turkey, and has taken on sharper focus since the discovery of natural gas in the region.
For decades, the United Nations has been attempting to piece Cyprus back together as a two-zone federation – the only thing the two sides had, until recently, been able to agree to in principle.