Lift embargo, Turkish Cyprus calls on Muslims

Turkish Cyprus expects Muslim countries around the world to lift their embargos imposed on the northern third of the Mediterranean island, northern Cypriot President Dervis Eroglu said yesterday.

“Unfortunately, it is not only EU countries that have embargos on Turkish Cyprus; Muslim countries also have embargos against us, so we especially expect the embargo on transportation to be lifted by Muslim countries,” he told a group of journalists in Istanbul following a conference on ongoing Cyprus negotiations.

“In the past, first Iran, then Azerbaijan, tried to launch direct flights to Turkish Cyprus, but both attempts were prevented due to pressure by Greek Cypriots,” Eroglu said. Noting, however, that Ankara’s influence had ensured Turkish Cyprus’ acceptance as an observer member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Eroglu said, “We think Turkey has this influence over many Muslim countries to convince them about northern Cyprus.” Asked whether Palestine’s efforts to be recognized in the international community could be a model for Turkish Cyprus, Eroglu said that if negotiations come to a deadlock because of Greek Cyprus’ attitude, the territory could pursue any option. “Our first priority is finding a solution through negotiations, of course. But despite all our goodwill for the future of the negotiations, if the Greek Cypriots continue with their negative attitudes, then all the other alternatives would be on the table; there are also examples like Kosovo and [South] Sudan,” Eroglu said. Turkish Cyprus also expects EU members to exert pressure on Greek Cyprus to pave the way for a lifting of the embargo imposed on Turkish Cyprus in return for providing financial support to Greek Cypriots, Eroglu said. “If the EU tells the Greek Cypriots something like ‘we will give you financial support but, in return, we will lift the embargo imposed on Turkish Cyprus,’ this would be something to motivate the Greek Cypriots more in peace negotiations,” he said. Eroglu also said he did not feel very hopeful about the Greek Cyprus’ Democratic Rally Party leader Nikos Anastasiadis’ speeches regarding the negotiations with Turkish Cyprus ahead of elections in the south of the island. “Anastasiadis recently gave some negative statements about the ongoing negotiations, but I want to believe that these were words that were said during the [heat of an] election campaign,” Eroglu said.

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