President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan heads to Turkish Cyprus on July 19 to mark the anniversary of Turkey’s 1974 intervention, a visit which is closely monitored by the European Union and the Greek Cypriots as the trip is seen as a show of strength to support a two-state solution to the island’s decades-long division.
The visit comes amid the reconciliation process that continues in Turkey’s relations with the EU and Greece, while the bloc warns Ankara not to jeopardize these efforts by increasing tensions during Erdoğan’s trip to Turkish Cyprus.
Last week, Erdoğan said he would give “good news” during a visit to Turkish Cyprus.
“I hope that with our ceremonies this year, we will have messages in the best way possible for the establishment of world peace both on the Island and in the whole world,” he said.
Erdoğan will embark on his trip to Turkish Cyprus on July 19 with a large delegation and address parliament there, he said, noting that he would return to Turkey on July 20.
“I want to give the good news to Turkish Cyprus at the parliament there. We have a good step. We have finished the preliminary studies,” the president stated.
All the members of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) central decision-making body will join Erdoğan’s trip in a bid to display Turkey’s and the ruling party’s full support to Turkish Cyprus, AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik said last week.
Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli will also join Erdoğan’s trip, daily Hürriyet reported on July 18.
The daily reported about five anticipated developments during the visit. It is speculated that Azerbaijan’s decision to establish diplomatic relations with the Turkish Cyprus will be announced there. The meeting of five deputies from the Azerbaijan parliament friendship group in Nicosia for three days strengthened this possibility, daily Hürriyet reported.
The nation’s garden and Bilal Ağa Masjid (Foundations Mosque), whose restoration has been completed, will be opened during a visit by Erdoğan to the abandoned beach resort of Varosha. The Greek administration and Athens are worried that Erdoğan will make a call on the Greek nationals to appeal to the Immovable Property Commission established in Turkish Cyprus for their properties in Varosha.
Erdoğan earlier said that the Geçitkale military base, which was built for the landing of Turkish warplanes after 1974 but remained idle in the intervening years, can be turned into a permanent armed unmanned drone base. The first armed unmanned drone landed in Geçitkale in December 2019. Turkish drones take off from Muğla Dalaman and use the Turkish Cyprus as a landing point.
Erdoğan might announce that a new naval base will be built near the Turkish Cyprus city of Famagusta to be used by the Turkish navy.
It is also speculated that Erdoğan may announce reserves of natural gas off the coast of Cyprus. Turkish drilling and seismic vessels conducted a series of drilling and seismic surveys off Cyprus last year.
In July, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned Erdoğan not to jeopardize a push for better ties with the bloc by inflaming tensions in the upcoming trip to Turkish Cyprus.
“This is a very sensitive topic for us. And we are very clear that we will, of course, observe how this visit will go and that we will never ever accept as a European Union a two-state solution,” von der Leyen told a press conference after an EU summit in Brussels.
Cyprus remains one of the major bones of contention between the EU and Ankara after the Turkish side pushed for a two-state solution to restart peace talks.
The European Union will “never, ever” accept a two-state deal on Cyprus, she once again said on July 8.
“I want to repeat that we will never ever accept a two-state solution. We are firm on that and very united,” von der Leyen told a news conference visiting Greek Cyprus.
Hurriyet Daily News