During his visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reiterated that the best way forward is to formally divide the island nation so everyone can enjoy equal rights.
Time is running out to resolve the Cyprus issue as the Greek side of the tiny island continues to view Turkish Cypriots as a minority and deny them equal rights, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.
Turkey doesn't have "another 50 years to waste" on waiting for the dispute to be resolved yet Ankara has kept the door for a peaceful resolution open, he said.
"A new negotiation process on Cyprus can only be carried out between the two states," Erdogan said at a ceremony in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on Tuesday marking the 47th anniversary of the Cyprus Peace Operation.
Erdogan said the only way to bring lasting peace to the divided east Mediterranean island was for the international community to accept Cyprus as two separate states.
Dispute needs 'two-state solution'
The Greek Cypriots insist on seeing Turkish Cypriots as a minority and refuse a solution that’s based on equality, Erdogan said.
The Greek Cypriot side wants to maintain its "maximalist, insincere and spoiled approach that is disconnected from reality”, he added.
Only Turkey recognises the Turkish Cypriot but Erdogan has said that sooner or later the international community will come to realise that the dispute needs a two-state solution.
Erdogan recalled that the EU vowed to support Northern Cyprus in financial and administrative matters, but hadn't done so.
Referring to the Greek Cypriot Administration, Erdogan said: "We can see that there are still those who yearn for the massacres before 1974.”
"We are right [on the Cyprus issue], and because we are right, we will defend our rights until the end," he said.
Turkey dismisses EU's comments on Cyprus as null and void
Turkey has dismissed statements from the EU's foreign policy chief on Cyprus as "null and void" saying Brussels has no role to play in settling the decades-old dispute.
The foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that criticism of Turkey from the EU's Josep Borrell showed he was "acting as spokesperson or advocate for the Greek Cypriot administration and Greece who abuse their right to veto within the EU".
Earlier in the day, Borrell criticised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statements on reopening of Varosha town made during a visit to the divided Mediterranean island.
The Turkish foreign ministry said Borrell's statement was "another proof of how much the EU is disconnected from the realities on the Cyprus issue," adding with this approach the bloc cannot play any positive role in solving the problem.
The ministry also said Ankara extended "full support" for Turkish Cypriot authorities' decision on the issue of Varosha.
Right to drill
The unresolved Cyprus issue has cut off TRNC from the gas bonanza that countries in the east Mediterranean have enjoyed.
Turkey’s petroleum exploration efforts in the eastern Mediterranean have faced roadblocks from Greece and Southern Cyprus – they have drilled wells in contested offshore territories but do not want Turkey to do the same.
A major issue is the exploration work being carried out in the waters claimed by Southern Cyprus.
Ankara has said that the TRNC must have a share in offshore resources.
The Greek Cypriot Administration has awarded exploration concessions to multinational companies in offshore regions west and southeast of the island without consulting with the TRNC.
Turkey has all along pushed for joint exploration but the Greek Cypriot Administration has rejected the idea, saying other issues must be settled before the prospect of joint drilling can be discussed.
Turkey has the longest coastline along the eastern Mediterranean.