By Faruk Zorlu
A lasting solution on the divided island of Cyprus will promote peace in the region, said Turkey’s president on Friday.
"There is no doubt that achieving the goal of a solution on Cyprus will contribute a great deal to the Eastern Mediterranean becoming an area of security, stability, and cooperation," said Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a message to Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Mustafa Akinci, marking July 20 Peace and Freedom Day.
July 20 Peace and Freedom Day in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus commemorates Turkey’s Cyprus Peace Operation -- a huge military intervention to protect Turkish Cypriots from inter-communal violence which struck the island in 1974.
"Having proved their devotion to peace and finding a resolution on the island at every turn, the Turkish Cypriot people have shown that they have the necessary will to overcome every sort of hardship despite all the unjust and illegitimate restrictions they are subjected to," said Erdogan.
Highlighting Turkey's cooperation over the last half-century to find a just and lasting solution to the Cyprus issue, he said: "None of the decades-long negotiation processes has unfortunately yielded the desired results due to the Greek Cypriots’ insistent rejection of the establishment of a new partnership on the basis of political equality with the Turkish Cypriots even though the Turkish Cypriot people and motherland Turkey have duly fulfilled all their responsibilities in this regard."
He added: "Turkey will continue to always stand by its Turkish Cypriot brothers and sisters, to support the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on the path it will pursue, and to be the guarantee of the environment of peace, freedom, and stability both on the island of Cyprus and in the Eastern Mediterranean."
Every July 20, Peace and Freedom Day in the TRNC commemorates Turkey’s Cyprus Peace Operation.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.
The latest attempt to reunify the long-divided Mediterranean island ended in failure in 2017 after two years of negotiations.