Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Feb. 10 slammed Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, saying he “should know his place,” as the tensions between the two countries worsen over disputes concerning Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus.
“Exploratory talks were supposed to be held in Athens. But Mitsotakis challenged me. How can we sit down with you now? Know your place first. If you really seek peace, don’t challenge me,” Erdoğan said, in an address to lawmakers from his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
“You were the one who kicked the negotiation table. If it continues like this, we cannot sit at the table with you. Those whom you have trusted have already failed you. You will not get any help from them. You will get to know the crazy Turks well,” Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan’s statements came after Mitsotakis said on Feb. 9 that the only way forward in Cyprus reunification talks is “a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality.” Βicommunal federation is also supported by UN, EU and US.
Mitsotakis said that Greece’s priority was to end the Turkish occupation on Cyprus and that the two-state formula favored by Turkey and Turkish Cypriots was “unrealistic.”
Talks under United Nations auspices are planned for next month.
The United Nations is set to invite Cyprus’s two communities and foreign ministers from the three guarantor nations – Turkey, Greece and Britain – to discuss how to move forward on an issue which has stoked tensions between Ankara and Athens and complicated energy projects in the Eastern Mediterranean.
U.N. resolutions call for Cyprus’ reunification under a two-zone federal umbrella. Previous attempts have failed to unite Greek and Turkish Cypriots on the island, which was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a Greek-inspired coup.
Erdoğan says two-state solution only option for Cyprus
Erdoğan said statements by Greece and the Cypriot government showed they were disregarding Turkish Cypriot authorities, recognized only by Ankara, adding that there was no point discussing proposals that failed before.
“There is no longer any solution but a two-state solution. Whether you accept it or not, there is no federation anymore,” he said. “Only under these conditions can we sit at the table over Cyprus. Otherwise, everyone should go their own way.”
On the backburner for years, the dispute has been brought into focus by energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean and a dispute between Turkey and Greece over maritime boundaries.
The two countries resumed talks last month in Istanbul, with the second round of talks planned to take place in Athens.