Er­do­gan com­ments dampen ex­pec­ta­tions

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Just days be­fore his meeting with Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras, Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan went on a na­tion­al­is­tic rant against Greece and Cyprus dur­ing an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence on trade in Turkey yes­ter­day, damp­en­ing ex­pec­ta­tions re­gard­ing the out­come of the week­end talks be­tween the two lead­ers in Abu Dhabi.

Speak­ing at the 7th An­nual Bosporus Sum­mit, Er­do­gan slammed Cyprus for us­ing its flag as rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the whole is­land and ig­nor­ing the north­ern part of the is­land.

“You can’t have a flag like that when the TRNC is there,” he said, re­fer­ring to the Turk­ish-oc­cu­pied north of the is­land, 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,” he said, de­scrib­ing the Greek Cypri­ots as “rude.”

His 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. Er­do­gan said that he urged Tsipras for a bi­lat­eral or mul­ti­lat­eral sum­mit on Cyprus, in­sist­ing that “this is­sue can­not drag on.”

“We should reach some­where by the end of the year, but if we start say­ing that this land is ours, and that only we will gov­ern, we will get nowhere.” For his part, Turk­ish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Ak­inci warned that if there is no so­lu­tion, then “we will con­tinue on our path” and called on in­ter­na­tional busi­ness­men to in­vest in the oc­cu­pied part of the is­land.

In re­sponse to Er­do­gan’s re­marks, gov­ern­ment spokesman Dim­itris Tzanakopou­los said that the “main pri­or­ity now should be restart­ing talks on Cyprus,” adding that a bi­lat­eral sum­mit had not been des­ig­nated.

“It will take place at the right time, when the talks restart and lead to a just and vi­able so­lu­tion.”

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