Turkey wishes Cyprus issue solution based on equality

Addressing a weekly briefing in Ankara, Foreign ministry spokesman spoke about support for Turkish Cypriots, Crimea and the situation in Syria and Egypt

Addressing a weekly briefing in Ankara, Foreign ministry spokesman spoke about support for Turkish Cypriots, Crimea and the situation in Syria and Egypt

ANKARA - Turkey wishes to find a solution of the Cyprus issue based on political equality, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Addressing a weekly briefing in Ankara, spokesman Tanju Bilgic said Turkey would always continue to support Turkish Cypriots.

"Our wish is to resume the negotiation process as soon as possible and find a solution based on political equality on the island," Bilgic said.

"Our priority is to ensure full benefits for the Cypriot people," he said.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, during his first official visit to southern Cyprus Monday, said, "Turkey's sending of the Barbaros Hayrettin seismic vessel (in October last year) is a clear violation of international law and a sabotage of peace negotiations."

Tsipras called on Turkey to respect international law and not threaten Greece for the continuation of negotiations.

Turkey and the government of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus have strongly opposed any "unilateral" move by the Greek-Cypriot administration to explore any hydrocarbon resources around the island, saying its natural resources should be exploited in a fair manner under a united Cyprus.

Negotiations between the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Greek Cypriot administration had resumed after a two-year pause in February 2013.

However, the Greek Cypriot administration suspended the talks over the divided island on Oct. 7 after Turkey sent a ship to monitor an oil-and-gas exploration mission off the coast of Cyprus.

Turkey and Greece are the guarantor countries for the disputed Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Both Turkish and Greek Cypriots are trying to find a way to settle their decades-long conflict.

- Conditions of Crimean Tatars

On the issue of Crimean Tatars, who ethnically self-identify as Turkic, Bilgic said the priority was to improve their conditions. "Our policy on Crimea issue is clear. We say we will not recognize the annexation of Crimea," he said.

He also added Turkey would send an unofficial delegation to Crimea to observe the situation of Crimean Tatars.

The Crimean city of Simferopol witnessed clashes on Feb. 26, 2014 when Crimean Tatars and other pro-Ukrainian activists clashed with pro-Russian demonstrators.

A referendum on the status of Crimea was held on March 16, 2014. A majority of the Crimean population voted to become part of the Russian Federation. The U.S. and EU denounced the referendum as illegitimate, as the region was occupied by Russian soldiers at the time.

According to Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, there are 280,000 Crimean Tatars in Crimea, about 13 percent of the total population.

-  Egypt death sentences

About Egyptian court’s decision Monday to uphold 183 death sentences, Bilgic said, "We issued a condemnation."

The Turkish Foreign Ministry released a statement Tuesday saying the ruling was "far from a fair trial" and would not provide the country with permanent peace or stability.

"We will continue our solidarity with the brotherly Egyptian people," the statement read.

"These decisions will not bring any benefit for the normalization of Egypt," Bilgic said.

The defendants, many of whom are supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and members of the Muslim Brotherhood group, were sentenced to death for their alleged involvement in an attack on a police station in the town of Kerdasa in August 2013.

- Syria

About Syria, the spokesperson said, "The priority of a political solution in Syria is also Turkey's priority."

"Any attempt to this end in Syria should be inclusive," Bilgic added.

He added that Turkey would closely follow UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura's attempts to bring peace to the country.

Reaching a solution in Syria is a “mission impossible,” but it needs to be done, Mistura told the European Parliament in Brussels on Monday.

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