Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu criticized the volatile rhetoric of Greek Cypriot officials regarding negotiations on the island during his brief conversation with his Greek Cypriot counterpart Nikos Hristodoulidis during the 74th session of the U.N. General Assembly, currently taking place in New York.
When Hristodoulidis asked to reach an agreement on a federal model right away, Çavuşoğlu reminded him that the Greek side had cut off a solution. "Your leader has rejected this. First, we need to agree on what to negotiate. What are we going to negotiate, two states or something else?"
Yet, the Greek Cypriot minister responded that the issue of negotiation was clear, reportedly saying that there is only one solution based on a federation with two societies and two fractions.
In response to this comment, Çavuşoğlu reminded Hristodoulidis that Greek Cyprus leader Nikos Anastasiadis had inconsistently put forward both a federation and confederation during the talks in Switzerland, stating, "Turkey has been the side striving for a solution for years, both in the Annan Plan and in Crans Montana."
A negotiation process, the Conference on Cyprus, was launched previously in Crans Montana. The talks, which began in 2017 and were monitored by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's Special Adviser on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide, failed after 10 days of intense discussions.
Çavuşoğlu had stated that Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades put forward ideas, such as a federal model in Cyprus. "Different options should be evaluated. We do not impose any of these different options, and we do not exclude any of them, but let's determine what to negotiate... and then go for a result-oriented negotiation," the minister said after the Crans Montana negotiations.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey used its guarantor rights to intervene on the island after a far-right Greek Cypriot military coup sponsored by the military junta then in power in Athens sought to unite the island with Greece. The coup followed a decade of interethnic violence and terrorism targeting Turkish Cypriots, who were forced to live in enclaves when Greek Cypriots unilaterally changed the constitution in 1963 and stripped the island's Turks of their political rights.
In 2004, a plan of then-U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was accepted by the Turkish Cypriots but rejected by the Greek Cypriots in dual referendums held on both sides of the island.
Talks have focused on a federal model, based on the political equality of the Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides, but the Greek Cypriots' rejection of such a solution, including the Annan plan, has led to the emergence of other models. In a recent report, Guterres also said "new ideas" may be needed for a settlement on the island.
Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Çavuşoğlu also met with Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Mustafa Akıncı. It was reported that the two discussed recent developments in the region and that Çavuşoğlu reiterated Turkey's support for the TRNC.
Çavuşoğlu also held talks separately with his counterparts – Morocco's Nasser Bourita, Sudan's Asma Mohamed Abdalla and Guinea-Bissau's Suzi Barbosa – as part of the assembly's New York session.