| 19 May 2024, Sunday |

UK Prime Minister tells President Erdogan that he supports a federal system on the island

Boris Johnson made clear his opposition to a Turkish-backed two-state solution in Cyprus when the UK Prime Minister spoke to Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday.

Mr Johnson said he supported a federal system on the divided island, a month before the first talks between the Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot north since 2017.

The Prime Minister and President Erdogan discussed the coming UN Cyprus talks. The Prime Minister emphasised that the UK continues to be a strong supporter of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Cyprus issue, based on the internationally accepted model of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation,” a spokesperson for Mr Johnson said.

Mr Erdogan said that a two-state solution “would lead to a win-win situation in terms of new regional cooperation opportunities not only for the two sides on the island but for all,” a statement by the Turkish presidency said.

The April 27-29 meeting in Geneva will bring together officials from Greece, Turkey and the UK, the guarantors of Cypriot sovereignty when it obtained independence in 1960.

While the Greek Cypriot administration in the south wants the island to be reunified under a federal system, the Turkish Cypriot north favours the two-state solution that is also supported by Mr Erdogan.

Cyprus has been split since 1974 after a Turkish invasion which was sparked by a short Greek-inspired coup. Efforts to reap the rewards of gas-rich areas in the eastern Mediterranean have further strained relations between Cyprus, Greece and Turkey recently, as well as disputes over maritime boundaries.

Last Friday, the EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell visited Cyprus for meetings with leaders of the island’s rival administrations to offer his support for the resumption of the talks next month.

Mr Borrell on Monday said the EU supported the UN’s position that a comprehensive settlement must be “based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality”.

Mr Erdogan last year clashed with the EU, particularly after a war of words with French President Emmanuel Macron. There have, however, been signs the Turkish leader is prepared to tone down his rhetoric and improve relations.

Mr Borrell said the Cyprus issue was important for broader relations between Turkey and the EU.

“These relations are equally approaching a turning point after a particularly difficult 2020: the relative calm that we are currently experiencing at sea in the Eastern Mediterranean and on settlement-related issues is tenuous. Progress in the Cyprus talks is more important than ever before,” he said.