Turkey ‘has right’ to say no on Cyprus

Neither Turkey nor the Turkish-Cypriot leadership will be pressured into accepting a solution on Cyprus by the European Union, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said on Saturday, during a visit to Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus. The EU has pledged to admit the island as a new member within the new wave of accession even if it stays divided. «Nobody should act under the belief that Turkey or [occupied northern Cyprus] is obliged to or is responsible for accepting a solution no matter what the cost,» Cem said. «Turkey and [the occupied north]… have the right to say no.» Turkey is the only country in the world to recognize the Turkish-held part of Cyprus as an independent state, providing unwavering support for the Turkish-Cypriot leadership. Arriving in the north on Friday, Cem expressed his backing for Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash’s insistence on the north being recognized as a legal state on the same footing as the Republic of Cyprus. For months, Denktash has been involved in United Nations-sponsored face-to-face talks with Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides on a peace settlement, but the two seem no closer to an agreement than ever. The very fact that Denktash agreed to direct talks – as opposed to the previous formula of separate meetings in the same city with UN officials – was regarded as a significant concession secured after Ankara brought pressure to bear on the Turkish-Cypriot leader. Cem, whose highly-publicized friendship with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou that produced bilateral agreements on low-policy matters has elicited no softening on Ankara’s Cyprus policy, said he could make no particularly optimistic forecasts on the course of the talks – which the UN would like to see producing an agreement this month. Meanwhile, reports yesterday said that Britain would not recognize the new, 12-mile territorial waters limit promulgated by Denktash last week. The Athens News Agency quoted a Foreign Office spokesman as saying London only recognizes the limits (also 12 miles) set by the Republic of Cyprus in 1964.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.