The decades-long Cyprus Problem was among the issues discussed during Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan’s official visit to Greece – the first by a Turkish head of state in 65 years.
President Erdoğan and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held on to their respective positions on Cyprus, a major dispute between the two neighbouring nations.
Speaking during a joint news conference in Athens following talks, Erdoğan said that Ankara maintained its support for a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus.
For his part the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that the Cyprus Problem had been an open issue since he was born 43 years ago.
“For as long as l can remember, one side has blamed the other for the failure in negotiations”, Tsipras said, citing Turkey’s military intervention as the cause of the Cyprus Problem.
Responding, Erdoğan remarked that, due to his age, he was perhaps better versed in the ins and outs of the Cyprus issue.
On the continued presence of Turkish troops on the island, the Turkish leader said no foreign troops would be stationed on Cyprus today had the Greek Cypriots voted for the Annan Plan in 2004.
But, he added, the Greek Cypriots made “the mistake” of rejecting that blueprint for a settlement.
Greece and Turkey, he said, are the “mother countries” and guarantors of Cyprus, and both nations desire a just and viable solution.
Referring to the reunification talks in Switzerland earlier this year – which ended in failure – Erdoğan said it was the Greek Cypriots who walked out.
“Who left the table at the end? It was the Greek Cypriots. We all witnessed that process together. We want a just and lasting solution but the Greek Cypriot side has no such concern. There are certain issues which over the years have been used as pretexts, last-minute subterfuges to prevent the two sides from reaching an agreement”, he added pointedly.
Tsipras responded by expressing the hope that the Cyprus talks would resume as soon as possible.