LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

The EU missed an opportunity of cooperation in the region by ignoring the rights of Turkish Cypriots and Turkey, said the presidency of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

In a written statement issued in response to the outcome of the two-day EU leaders summit in Brussels, the presidency said: “EU’s unconditional support for the Greek Cypriots and Greece by ignoring the rights of Turkish Cypriot people and the Republic of Turkey under the cover of ‘membership solidarity’ blows up the opportunity of interdependence and cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

It added that it is not possible for the EU, which has already lost a chance to become an impartial actor in solving the Cyprus issue, to undertake a constructive role with this stance.

The presidency stressed that the decision taken on the Eastern Mediterranean at the summit “will in no way affect our determination to continue to protect our legitimate rights and interests.”

The declaration issued following the summit reiterated the EU’s commitment to “defending its interests and those of its member states as well as to upholding regional stability”.

It condemned the opening of part of the town of Maras, also known in Greek as Varosha, and argued that UN Security Council resolutions should be respected.

The summit also signaled that the EU may increase pressure on Ankara in the coming weeks, by including additional individuals from Turkey’s energy sector to a sanctions regime, which was created in November 2019.

Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims of Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, and stressed that these excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.

Ankara has sent several drill ships in recent months to explore for energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting its own rights in the region, as well as those of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving all outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue, and negotiation.

Ignoring Northern Cyprus ‘unacceptable’

“The fact that the EU does not refer or ignore the Turkish Cypriot people in these and similar decisions is unacceptable and incompatible with the facts,” said the presidency.

Noting that the Cyprus issue remains unresolved due to rejections from the Greek Cypriot administration, it said: “The Turkish Cypriot side has repeatedly declared that the negotiations cannot be resumed from where they were left off and that it is ready for an agreement based on sovereign equality and two-statehood that envisages mutual recognition for a sustainable reconciliation.”

It stressed that the TRNC will continue to defend with determination its legitimate rights and interests together with Turkey.

EU leaders gathered in Brussels on Thursday for two days of discussions on the EU budget and COVID-19 as well as transatlantic ties and relations with Turkey.

*Writing by Sena Guler

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