The President of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus Mustafa Akıncı was left fuming after Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, failed to meet with him during an official visit to Cyprus.
Mr Borrell (pictured top) had travelled to the island on Thursday after holding meetings in Athens, Greece, to discuss Cyprus’ offshore gas reserves and maritime boundaries, which are disputed by Turkey and North Cyprus.
During his two-day visit to Cyprus Mr Borrell remained in the South, meeting with Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides and Defence Minister Savvas Angelides. On Friday, the EU’s top diplomat was pictured with Mr Angelides flying in a helicopter over Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, before leaving the island.
The deliberate snub to President Akıncı was further exacerbated by the Spanish diplomat’s contentious statements, including one tweet that said, “Turkish illegal drillings must stop.”
Despite repeatedly talking about Cyprus’ “sovereignty and sovereign rights”, at no point did Mr Borrell refer to Turkish Cypriots and their rights.
It prompted the TRNC President to issue a stern statement about Mr Borrell, who had “refrained from contacting the Turkish Cypriot side,” which the president had caused “disappointment” and “frustration” in North Cyprus.
President Akıncı said his office had made repeated efforts to arrange a meeting with Mr Borrell to no avail. The TRNC President contrasted this with the “many times” he had met with senior EU officials including former President of the European Commission Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, former President of the European Parliament Mr. Martin Schulz, and Mr Borrell’s predecessor Ms. Federica Mogherini.
The Turkish Cypriot leader challenged Mr Borrell over his sincerity in wanting “to find a way out of the deteriorating situation in the Eastern Mediterranean,” pointing to his hypocrisy in “talking about dialogue” as a solution to the dispute, yet failing to “even make the effort to listen to the views and the proposals of the Turkish Cypriot side.”
You ignore the realities of the island and Turkish Cypriot rights!
One day you will apologize to the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey!
EU also have not kept your promise that the embargoes will be lifted. EU is not even a party to the Cyprus issue. Learn how you respect the int law! https://t.co/ez2g996UmM
— Asst.Prof.Dr.Emete Gözügüzelli (@EGozuguzelli) June 27, 2020
President Akıncı added that Mr Borrell’s one-sided approach was “unacceptable” and a “contradiction with the values of the European Union”.
He concluded by stating that, “Trying to find solutions by excluding the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Republic of Turkey from the energy equation in the Eastern Mediterranean is against the realities of our region as well as the economic wisdom.”
The criticism of Mr Borell extended into Turkish Cypriot civil society. Responding to the diplomat’s tweet on his Cyprus visit, law lecturer Asst. Prof. Emete Gözügüzelli wrote: “You ignore the realities of the island and Turkish Cypriot rights! One day you will apologize to the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey! EU also have not kept your promise that the embargoes will be lifted. EU is not even a party to the Cyprus issue. Learn how you respect the int law!”
The full statement by President Akıncı, issued 26 June 2020
As the leader of the Turkish Cypriot people, which is one of the two communities in Cyprus and aims to be part of the EU, I would like to express my disappointment over the fact that the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Mr. Josep Borrell has not allocated any time for the Turkish Cypriot side during his visit to Cyprus.
Despite the fact that we met many times with former President of the European Commission Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, former President of the European Parliament Mr. Martin Schulz, former President of the European Council Mr. Donald Tusk and the predecessor of the High Representative Borrell, Ms. Federica Mogherini both here in my Office as well as abroad, and despite our repetitive calls towards enhancing the relations with the EU, the fact that Mr. Borrell has refrained from contacting the Turkish Cypriot side has caused frustration.
In his statements in the Greek Cypriot side, Mr. Borrell said that EU was invented to find solutions through dialogue, and he came to Cyprus to listen to the Greek Cypriot concerns in order to find a way out of the deteriorating situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. However, while talking about dialogue and helping to find a way out, he did not even make the effort to listen to the views and the proposals of the Turkish Cypriot side, which is one of the principal sides of the dialogue in Cyprus. Such an approach, which is in contradiction with the values of the European Union, is unacceptable.
In the context of hydrocarbon issue, while reminding that the proposal of the Turkish Cypriot side, dated 13 July 2019, to form a joint committee was tabled with a view to finding a solution for the de-escalation of tension in the Eastern Mediterranean, which still stands, I would also like to bring to the attention of all EU officials that any step excluding the Turkish Cypriot side will not be helpful for the settlement of the disputes and will not contribute to peace and stability of the region.
If the EU sincerely wants to play a positive role in de-escalating the tension in the Eastern Mediterranean, it has to conduct an inclusionary diplomacy rather than an exclusionary one and promote an environment conducive to cooperation.
Trying to find solutions by excluding the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Republic of Turkey from the energy equation in the Eastern Mediterranean is against the realities of our region as well as the economic wisdom.