Erdogan’s comment on Cyprus irks Athens

Greek and Cypriot government officials on Tuesday expressed shock and anger at claims by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday that “there is no country named Cyprus” ahead of a fresh effort by the United Nations to broker a deal between the two communities on the divided island.

The Greek Foreign Ministry issued a terse response. “The Turkish prime minister’s disputing the very existence of the Republic of Cyprus should finally awaken the international community as to Turkey’s true intentions regarding the Cyprus issue,” ministry spokesperson Constantinos Koutras said.

The government spokesman in Nicosia Christos Stylianides expressed “surprise and concern” at Erdogan’s statement, which he said made it all the more necessary for the Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot sides to agree on a “joint statement” setting out the basic principles for a Cyprus settlement to avoid a fresh deadlock.

There were also reactions from Euro MPs, with Greece’s Marietta Giannakou and Eleni Theocharous of Cyprus issuing a joint statement referring to an “insult to the European Union and the international rule of law.”

In comments to Turkish-Cypriot daily Kibris on Sunday, Erdogan was quoted as saying: “There is no country named Cyprus. There is the local administration of south Cyprus.”

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