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Greece should call Turkey’s bluff on Cyprus

Friday, January 13, 2017  |   |  Tags: , ,

Key talks in Geneva negotiating an end to the illegal occupation of Cyprus have broken down over the issue of security and guarantees. For those following the Cyprus issue and statements from the Turkish government, this is disappointing though not surprising.

Reacting to the talks, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised a perpetual occupying presence: “We have told Cyprus and Greece clearly that they should not expect a solution without Turkey as guarantor,” he said. “We are going to be there forever.” […] Foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also claimed that Turkish troops should stay in Cyprus:

Çavuşoğlu reportedly told the closed-door session in Geneva: “Taking into consideration the current situation in our region, the continuation of the security and guarantees system, which has been the solid basis of the 43-year-long security and stability on the island, is a necessity”.

Well, no. There’s been relative stability on the island despite the security and guarantees system and the provocative presence of some 30,000 occupation troops on the island. Of course, Erdogan had more to say:

The withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Cyprus is “out of the question” unless Greece reciprocates by removing some of its soldiers from the south of the island, Turkey’s president said on Friday.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s remarks came at the end of a week of intense negotiations in Geneva over the reunification of the island, which has been divided since a Turkish invasion in 1974.

“It is out of the question for Turkish soldiers to pull out completely, and we’ve discussed this before,” President Erdogan said. “If something like this is being considered, then both sides should pull their troops out of there.”

OK, fine. Greece should have no problem removing the handful of troops it has on the island (reportedly around 1,000). It should offer to do so, and call Erdogan’s bluff. Will Erdogan stand by his words?

I wouldn’t hold my breath.

 

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