Turkey offered to bow to EU demands and open its ports, airports and airspace to Greek Cyprus under what it called a “Taiwanese-style” diplomatic arrangement to help drive Cypriot reunification talks that resumed yesterday under U.N. pressure for a breakthrough.
Turkish EU Minister Egemen Bağış said he believed a simple arrangement could help free up talks over the east Mediterranean island.“The minute a British Airways, an Air France, a KLM, a Lufthansa plane lands at Ercan airport [in Turkish Cyprus], Turkey is ready to open all of her airports, sea ports and air space to Greek Cypriot planes and vessels,” Bağış said.
Turkish Cyprus in the north, recognized only by Ankara, has direct air links only with Turkey. It is also excluded from international sport, finance and trade. Greek Cypriots, who represent the whole of Cyprus in the EU, but whose authority is effectively confined to the island’s south, fear any recognition of Turkish Cyprus as a state could make partition permanent.
“The fact that an Al Italia or an Air France plane is landing at Ercan would not mean they recognize [Turkish Cyprus],” Bağış said in an interview late Nov. 27. “This would be like the Taiwanese model – a trade relationship.” Many states, forced by Beijing to choose between mainland China and breakaway Taiwan, choose diplomatic ties with the former. But Taiwan retains international contacts on a trading basis.
It was the first time Turkey had officially invoked the “Taiwanese model,” seeking explicitly to decouple such ties from any suggestion of diplomatic recognition. Greek and Turkish Cypriots were due to meet a U.N. special envoy yesterday for the first time since Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon summoned them to New York earlier this month to try to expedite a deal.
“Turkey has a ‘plan B,’ Turkey has a ‘plan C,’ a ‘plan D’ and even a ‘plan F’ [should talks to reunite the island fail]. But let’s keep it to ourselves for now,” Bağış said.
Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said yesterday they would always be with Turkish Cyprus to overcome the unfair isolation, speaking at the Forum and Exhibition on Higher Education Services in OIC Member States that was held in the Turkish Cypriot city of Kyrenia.
It was one of the principles of the OIC to help the Turkish Cypriot people receive treatment as all other peoples do in the world, İhsanoğlu said.
Turkish Cypriot President Derviş Eroğlu and Turkey’s Ambassador in Nicosia Halil İbrahim Akça are attending the conference, which was co-organized by the OIC and the Turkish Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The forum will continue until Dec. 1.
Eroğlu said Turkish Cyprus wanted to cooperate with Muslim countries and his country’s future lay in tourism, education and trade. He also called on Islamic countries for support in politics.
Compiled from AA and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.