NEWS

Turkey holds key to move on Cyprus

Solving the Cyprus problem is the only way to take Greek-Turkish relations to a new level, President Karolos Papoulias said during an official visit to Cyprus over the weekend. «Without a solution, Greek-Turkish ties will never be fully normalized,» said Papoulias, who was visiting the island to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of Archbishop Makarios, who secured the island’s liberation in 1960. Papoulias said that Turkey’s bid to join the EU could be exploited by both Greece and Cyprus to secure a Cyprus solution on the basis of UN and EU principles. «This is the only course open to us, there is no other way,» said Papoulias who met with his Cypriot counterpart Tassos Papadopoulos. But Papoulias stressed that Ankara cannot expect to join the EU if it continues to maintain occupying troops on Cyprus. «We cannot accept this paradox and we call upon our EU partners not to tolerate it,» he said. The ability of the Turkish government to distance itself from the influence of the country’s military will have a crucial impact on Turkey’s relations with both Greece and Cyprus, Papoulias added. «The government of (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan faces the challenge of freeing itself from the tyranny of the deep state,» said the president who was a high-ranking diplomat in the Balkans for years. Meanwhile in Athens, new Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Markoullis told Kathimerini that she, too, fears the influence of the Turkish army. «The key for us is the decisive role of the military in Turkey’s national issues, including the Cyprus problem, the Aegean and the Kurdish issue,» Markoullis said. She also expressed concern about strong gains made by Turkish nationalists and expressed her hope that Erdogan will not make alliances with such groups for domestic reasons. Regarding recent efforts to kickstart peace talks on the island, Markoullis expressed disappointment at the reluctance of the Turkish Cypriots but said she did not blame Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat for the lack of progress. «The instructions came, and always come, from Ankara,» she said.