Turkey: No Hope for the Cyprus Conflict?
In a post from a few days ago, I linked to a column that suggested there might be some new hope for the stalled reconciliation process on the divided island of Cyprus.That hope was based on the understanding that with last month's elections behind it, the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) can now get back to focusing on some of the unresolved political and diplomatic problems that are blocking Turkey's forward path.Well, only a few days later, its seems like that hope might quickly be vanishing. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is today making a visit to Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus and what he had to say there offered little comfort to those hoping for a new day on the island. From a Today's Zaman report:
Turkey is no longer prepared to accept the concessions it has agreed to in order to help with the reunification of Cyprus in line with a UN plan back in 2004 and the Turkish side will accept nothing short of recognition of a two-state solution on the island, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.
Erdoğan, speaking to a group of Turkish Cypriot journalists ahead of a Tuesday trip to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), said 2012 was a final deadline for a settlement on the island. “We will see if this is resolved by 2012 or not. If it is not, we will have to find solutions ourselves,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency on Tuesday. The news conference took place on Monday.
The Turkish side has long warned that talks to reunite Cyprus will not continue forever and that Ankara might seek international recognition for the KKTC -- currently recognized only by Turkey -- if reunification efforts fail. Erdoğan said there were “different alternatives” concerning recognition of the KKTC. “There are alternatives that we will discuss with our Turkish Cypriot brothers. I mean, this process [of reunification] shall stop if necessary. What are we supposed to do if it is not working?” the Turkish prime minister asked.
Turkey backed the UN plan, named after former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to reunite the island. The plan, however, failed because it was rejected by Greek Cypriots. The Turkish Cypriots, on the other hand, approved the plan in a simultaneous referendum.
Erdoğan said the Greek Cypriot side was still expecting the Turkish side to agree to even broader concessions than the ones in the Annan plan, but made it clear that the circumstances have changed. “The Annan plan conditions have changed. We will be coming to [the negotiating] table differently. They [the Greek Cypriots] are still thinking of what more they get can get besides [concessions stipulated in] the Annan plan. Well, excuse us, but the time [of concessions] has passed,” said Erdoğan.