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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Turkish Cypriots 'joint owners' of Cyprus, not minority: Erdogan

'Negotiations are doomed to ineffectiveness if there is no change towards an understanding that Turkish Cypriots are political equals,' the Turkish president said in a newspaper interview

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pictured here in Istanbul on December 9, 2017, has said negotiations on Cyprus are 'doomed to ineffectiveness if there is no change towards an understanding that Turkish Cypriots are political equals'. Yasin Bulbul / Pool via AP
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pictured here in Istanbul on December 9, 2017, has said negotiations on Cyprus are 'doomed to ineffectiveness if there is no change towards an understanding that Turkish Cypriots are political equals'. Yasin Bulbul / Pool via AP

Turkish Cypriots are "joint owners" of the divided island of Cyprus, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in an interview on Sunday, insisting that negotiations will fail if they are treated otherwise.

"Turkish Cypriots will never be reduced to the status of a minority, as the Greek Cypriots wish, on an island where they are joint owners," Mr Erdogan told Greece's To Vima weekly newspaper.

"Negotiations are doomed to ineffectiveness if there is no change towards an understanding that Turkish Cypriots are political equals."

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece.

Turkey still maintains around 35,000 troops in the self-declared statelet of around 300,000 people which is recognised only by Ankara.

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Efforts to reunify the divided island collapsed at a UN-hosted peace summit in Switzerland in July.

In the talks, Greece sought to end the right of intervention in Cyprus that is held by Athens, Britain and Turkey, while the Greek Cypriots also pushed for a withdrawal of Turkish troops from the former British colony which joined the European Union in 2004.

"The Greek Cypriots have a serious problem as regards power sharing ... they still see Cyprus as a Greek island," Mr Erdogan was quoted as saying.

The last major peace push collapsed in 2004 when a proposal worked out by then UN chief Kofi Annan was accepted by most Turkish Cypriots but resoundingly dismissed by Greek Cypriots in twin referendums.

Mr Erdogan on Thursday made an official visit to Greece, the first by a Turkish president in 65 years.