Turkey is causing a stir by attempting to shift its position on Cyprus.
Turkey drew ire from Western nations on Wednesday after calling for two states in Cyprus and reopening a resort that had been depopulated by Greek Cypriots, with the US threatening to take its NATO ally to the UN Security Council.
On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that a half-century of UN attempts had failed and that there should be “two peoples and two states with equal rights” in the divided Nicosia.
Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland expressed concern that Erdogan’s comments will have a “chilling effect” on UN-led efforts to find a solution in Cyprus.
At a Senate hearing, Nuland stated, “We believe that only a Cypriot-led approach — bizonal, bicommunal – will bring peace and security to Cyprus.”
Cyprus, a member of the European Union dominated by Greek Cypriots, and the United Nations are both seeking a “bizonal” federation with two regional administrations united as one country.
Cyprus has been split since 1974, when Turkey invaded in retaliation for the military dictatorship in Athens’ failed coup attempt to unify the island with Greece.
Turkey is the only country that acknowledges the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Despite the lack of a solution, the island has remained mostly tranquil.
Erdogan ally Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar also announced a fresh step in the opening up of Varosha, which was previously the Mediterranean island’s leading resort but its Greek Cypriot population left with the invasion in 1974.
Tatar stated that the military status of 3.5 percent of Varosha, whose abandoned high rises are under Turkish military control, would be erased.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ spokesman said the move was “very concerning” and urged “all parties to desist from unilateral acts that exacerbate tensions.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides on the phone Wednesday after delivering a harsh statement Tuesday, calling the Varosha move “unacceptable and contrary with UN resolutions.”
Blinken remarked on Twitter, alluding to the UN Security Council, that “we’re pressing for a strong UNSC response.”
Nuland claimed she and other US officials had been on the phone with Turkish colleagues pleading for the decision to be reversed.
President Joe Biden has had a tumultuous relationship with Erdogan, whom he has labeled as an autocrat, but Turkey has supplied assistance in a crucial area by guarding Afghanistan’s main airport as US forces leave.
The current chair of the is France. Brief News from Washington Newsday.