Erdoğan to visit TRNC, wants to ‘picnic in Maraş’ with President
TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to have a “picnic” in the recently reopened part of Maraş when he travels to North Cyprus in mid-November, he said this week.
Mr Erdoğan’s comments, made during a joint press conference with President Ersin Tatar in Ankara on Monday, appeared to catch his counterpart and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu by surprise.
Following his main comments at the press conference, Mr Erdoğan, turning to his Foreign Minister who was in the audience, said: “Mr Çavuşoğlu, I say we can have a picnic in . . . Maraş. Are there any obstacles?”
He then asked a nervous-looking Mr Tatar “what do you think?” to which Mr Tatar replied “God willing”.
Mr Erdoğan continued: “I think it would be good if we all had a picnic there together. We have seen it [Maraş] on the TV screens, we would like to see it in person. Hopefully we will make it happen.”
The comments were described as “offensive” by Greek Cypriot government spokesman Kyriakos Koushos.
Mr Erdoğan, who last visited North Cyprus in 2018 following his election as president, announced that he will travel to the TRNC to take part in the November 15 celebrations to mark the 37th anniversary of its establishment.
He will also officially open the new emergency hospital in Lefkoşa that has been funded by Turkey.
During Monday’s press conference, Mr Erdoğan congratulated President Tatar on his recent election victory.
Referring to the Cyprus issue, President Erdoğan said: “Only the Turkish side making efforts is not enough to reach a solution. It is obvious that the Greek side does not have intentions to accept any agreement which is based on Turkish Cypriots being equal partners.”
Stating that the “Turkish side is in favour of a just, lasting and sustainable solution in Cyprus”, President Erdoğan added: “It must be understood that it is no longer possible for a conclusion to be reached within the negotiations process pursued for half a century with the present parameters.”
He said that the will of Turkey to find a “fair, lasting and sustainable solution” remains and that a “two-state solution” should be considered.
“A solution whereby the two peoples could live side by side in peace, prosperity and security must be built upon the island’s realities,” he stated.
“At this stage, we for sure think it will be a loss of time to start negotiations exclusively on the basis of a federation.
“We therefore believe a two-state solution must also be brought to the table with a realistic approach.”
On the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean over energy exploration, Mr Erdoğan said that the current situation “has been caused by the Greek-Greek Cypriot duo, who have not heeded our warnings or constructive proposals since 2003”.
He continued: “Just as we protect our own rights within our continental shelf in the Eastern Mediterranean, we also safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriots, who are the joint owners of the island. We have shown friend and foe our determination in this regard at every stage.”
“What is more, energy companies – whose appetites have been whetted by the region’s hydrocarbon resources – and the powers behind them have seen no harm in getting involved in this game.
“However, this game has now been foiled. As we have been saying since the beginning, attempts which don’t take Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots into consideration have no chance of success in the region.”