Recep Tayyip Erdogan has put the issue of Turkey’s membership of the EU at the forefront of events to mark the anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus. On a visit to Nicosia the Turkish prime minister warned against making Anakara’s accession to the bloc contingent on settling the Cyprus issue.
“The EU should keep its promises. Opening up the Turkish Republic of northern Cyprus to trade and direct flights should be guaranteed,” he said.
Turkey is the only country to recognise northern Cyprus. Ankara invaded in 1974 in response to a Greek Cypriot coup.
The extent of bitterness is revealed in how each side’s refers to July 20th – the Turkish call it “Peace and Freedom Day”, for the Greek Cypriots it is the “Black Anniversary”.
Erdogan has repeatedly called for northern Cyprus’ isolation to be ended, while Brussels has said talks on EU membership could be suspended if Ankara continues to refuse air and sea port access to Greek Cypriot vessels.