ATHENS – The Greek government has angrily denied claims by new Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Athens is not living up to its job as guarantor power in the Cyprus dilemma.
Greek officials were also upset that Erdogan, in a visit to Cyprus on Sept. 1, called for a two-state solution to the problem of trying to unify the island divided since an unlawful Turkish invasion in 1974.
Greece said that his comments were “disappointing” and “simply confirm Ankara’s persistence in its aggressive policy” on Cyprus.
Addressing a joint news conference in the Turkish-occupied north of Nicosia with Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, Erdogan opposed the prospect for a settlement based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation. Turkey calls the occupied area the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus but only it recognizes the area as a sovereign entity.
Kathimerini reported that sources said Erdogan denied receiving a letter from Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, which was delivered to him at his inauguration ceremony in Ankara last week by Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
On arriving in the occupied north of the island, Erdogan said Turkey would “not allow Turkish Cypriots to be incorporated within the Greek-Cypriot state as a minority” and called on Greece and Britain to intensify efforts to break the deadlock, claiming that “the Cyprus problem will be solved very quickly if Greece does its duty as a guarantor power as Turkey has done.”
He added that Ankara would allow the re-opening of a former Greek Orthodox seminary near Istanbul if Athens permitted the construction of traditional mosques with minarets in the capital and allowed Muslim communities in Thrace, northern Greece, to directly appoint muftis.
In a strongly-worded statement issued in response, Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Constantinos Koutras accused Erdogan of trying to “equate certain of Greece’s international obligations with Turkey’s heavy burden of responsibility regarding the Cyprus issue” and described the parallel as “historically and legally groundless and, thus, politically unacceptable.”