Turkey's minister for EUropean Union Affairs, Egemen bağış, said on Monday that Turkey's Cyprus policy remains unchanged after his weekend remarks suggesting annexation of Turkish Cyprus caused a media stir.
“It saddened me to see that there are some pro-Greek Cyprus circles on the island who tried to interpret my remarks in a certain way by picking and highlighting only some parts of them,” Bağış said in Ankara, apparently referring to protests from Turkish Cypriot opposition regarding his statements.
“Our sole objective is for a solution to be reached on the island, acceptable to both Cypriot sides, so that a unified Cyprus could assume the rotating presidency of the EU in July,” Bağış said. “But in case no settlement emerges, all options are under consideration.”
The EU Affairs minister said he acknowledged that annexation of Turkish Cyprus to Turkey could be an option when asked by a journalist if the options he talked about included annexation as well. “We are not introducing a new policy on Cyprus here. Our main goal remains a solution as soon as possible. But no one can expect Turkey to abandon the [Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus] KKTC if no solution is found,” Bağış said.
Bağış was quoted in the Turkish Cypriot press over the weekend as saying all options are on the table regarding the fate of Cyprus, including annexation of the KKTC to Turkey. “Reunification under a deal that [Turkish and Greek Cypriot] leaders could reach, creation of two independent states after an agreement between the two leaders if they are unable to reach a deal for reunification, or annexation of the KKTC to Turkey. These are all options on the table,” Bağış said, according to Turkish Cypriot media.
The minister's remarks elicited protests from the KKTC opposition. Main opposition Republican Turks Party (CTP) leader Özkan Yorgancıoğlu condemned the EU affairs minister's remarks, saying the idea of annexing the KKTC to Turkey is unacceptable.
Turkish Cypriot leader Derviş Eroğlu and Greek Cypriot leader Dimitris Christofias have been holding talks to reunite the island, but the two sides are unable to report any significant progress from the talks, under way since 2008. Turkey says it supports UN-backed talks to reunite the island.
Ankara has also declared that it will suspend dialogue with the EU presidency when Greek Cyprus, internationally recognized to represent the entire island, takes over the rotating term presidency of the 27-nation bloc in July.