The Turkish president on Monday reiterated his call to all parties who desire a just, lasting and sustainable future in Cyprus to seize the historic opportunity.
“Turkish Cypriots have the equal international status and sovereign equality on the island of which they are equal partners,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a news conference ahead of his official visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
The proposal presented by TRNC President Ersin Tatar at the informal talks in Geneva in April provided an opportunity to find a solution to the Cyprus dispute.
“In this way, the Turkish Cypriot side has once again shown to the world who is in favor of solution and who is profiting from the deadlock,” Erdogan said.
The unofficial first 5+1 meeting – with both sides of the island, guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and the UK, and the UN – was held in Geneva on April 27-29.
He said that any new negotiation process in Cyprus can only be held between two equal and sovereign states.
“Turkish Cypriots have been fighting for equality and justice on the island for more than half a century,” Erdogan noted.
"It should not be forgotten that the TRNC is a state that stands on its own feet despite all kinds of difficulties. It is taking firm steps towards a prosperous future with its democratic tradition and developing economy," Erdogan added.
Erdogan stressed that Turkey and every member of Turkish society will continue to stand by the Turkish Cypriots.
Erdogan's Visit to TRNC
The Turkish president has embarked on a two-day official visit to TRNC.
During his visit, Erdogan will address a special session of the Turkish Cypriot parliament and attend celebrations of July 20 Peace and Freedom Day, marking the 47th anniversary of Turkey’s 1974 Peace Operation, which protected the island’s Turkish Cypriot community from Greek Cypriot violence.
He will also meet with Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar to exchange views on the latest developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and bilateral relations.
Erdogan will also attend a mass inauguration ceremony of some completed projects.
Every year the TRNC celebrates July 20 as its Peace and Freedom Day to mark the operation – a large-scale military intervention to protect Turkish Cypriots from the violence that struck the island in 1974.
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
In the early 1960s, ethnic attacks forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.
In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aiming at Greece's annexation led to Turkey's military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was founded in 1983.
The island has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and the UK.
The Greek Cypriot administration entered the European Union in 2004, the same year that Greek Cypriots thwarted the UN's Annan plan to end the decades-long dispute.
Criticizing a recent decision by a top EU court that allows the banning of headscarves under certain conditions, Erdogan said: “They must first learn what freedom of belief is.”
The Court of Justice of the EU on Thursday ruled on two cases brought by Muslim women in Germany who were suspended from their jobs for wearing headscarves.
It ruled that companies in member states can ban employees from wearing headscarves if they “need to present a neutral image to customers.”
On the first visit by an Azerbaijani parliamentary delegation to Northern Cyprus, Erdogan said establishing such high-level contacts between countries and the TRNC is a result of “our efforts”.
A delegation of the foreign affairs and inter-parliamentary relations committee of Azerbaijan’s parliament visited the TRNC on Friday.
Speaking about the situation in Afghanistan, Erdogan said it is not "the right approach" for the Taliban to continue with an “invasion movement.”