Turkey will do everything within the framework of international law to defend the rights of Turkish Cypriots, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Friday as a reunification deal on ethnically split Cyprus collapsed.
Talks to reunify the divided island of Cyprus broke up amid anger and recriminations in the early hours of Friday, marking the end of a process seen as the most promising in generations to heal decades of suspended conflict.
Speaking to reporters after Friday prayers, Yildirim said Turkey was ready to be constructive if the United Nations or other organisations sought lasting peace in Cyprus.
“Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot delegation did everything it could,” Yildirim told reporters in Ankara.
“We very openly showed that we were the side that genuinely wanted a solution, both to the United Nations and the European Union, as well as the other guarantor countries,” he said.
Yildirim added that the accession of Cyprus into the EU following the Greek Cypriots’ rejection of reunification in a 2004 referendum had further complicated the peace process.
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, meanwhile, said the failed peace talks were the “last attempt” to achieve unity on the island for a generation.
Talks broke down around a number of issues, the most striking being the presence of nearly 40,000 Turkish troops in the island’s breakaway Turkish Cypriot north.
The Greek Cypriot side had demanded the withdrawal of the Turkish troops and the annulment of a 1960 treaty which grants Turkey the right to militarily intervene in the island’s affairs.
TRT World‘s Christine Pirovolakis, however, says that despite the overall failure of the talks, some progress was made. She has been following the talks in the Swiss resort of Crans Montana.
Turkey has maintained a military presence on the island since it was split in a brief war in 1974. The Turkish intervention triggered by a brief Greek-orchestrated coup aimed at annexing the island to Greece, which is another guarantor country along with Britain.
Turkey supports the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which Turkish Cypriots established in 1983 after years of failed negotiations to restore peace.
In the 2004 referendum, Turkish Cypriots, stifled by decades of international isolation, voted to reunite the island in accordance with a plan proposed by then-UN chief Kofi Annan.
Yet despite the Greek Cypriot rejection of the plan, the southern-based Greek Cypriot administration led Cyprus to EU membership as the sole recognised authority on the island.
Although some Turkish Cypriots have unsuccessfully sought representation in the European Parliament through the Greek Cypriot administration, the vast majority of Turkish Cypriots remain alienated from state-level representation.
TRT World ‘s Ertan Karpazli explains that while this is not the first time internationally brokered talks to reunite the island have failed, the people of Cyprus have all but lost hope of a solution.