Ankara could demand recognition of Turkish-occupied Cyprus for Finland, Sweden accession to NATO

Turkish-occupied northern cyprus ankara

Ankara may use as a bargaining chip the recognition of Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus to allow Sweden and Finland to join NATO, the Express newspaper reported on Sunday.

A source close to Cypriot-Turkish leader Ersin Tatar said that he made a phone call to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asking that the status of the occupation be put on the table at the NATO talks, the Express said.

“I know the call was made and I understand that President Tatar received a positive answer,” the source said, according to the British newspaper. “Why not use any leverage we can in this situation? Greece and Cyprus have been using their veto on the EU to stop any progress being made and it is time this injustice was resolved.”

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 after Turkey occupied the northern third of the island, with only Turkey, in violation of UN resolutions, recognising the occupation.

Senior British ministers are sympathetic to the idea of recognising the occupation, as well as allowing direct flights to northern Cyprus, which is currently only reachable from Turkish cities, the Express said.

Turkey has blocked Finland and Sweden’s application to join NATO this month, saying that the two countries first need to make guarantees about Turkey’s security, stop supporting Kurdish militant groups and hand over dozens of people wanted in Turkey on terrorism charges.

At the weekend, Erdoğan said ongoing talks with Swedish and Finnish officials have made little progress and Turkey’s opposition to their membership continued.

“As long as Tayyip Erdoğan is at the head of the Republic of Turkey, we cannot say yes to countries that support terrorism to join NATO,” Erdoğan said on his plane while returning from a trip to Azerbaijan, according to the NTV news channel.

“They have expectations, but they did not take steps they should have regarding Turkey, and they, especially Sweden, still let terrorists roam their streets, securing (the terrorists) with their own police,” he said.

The international community’s failure to recognise Turkish Cyprus “is a longstanding injustice and needs to be resolved,” the source close to Tatar said.

“You cannot have a people and a country go unrecognised internationally for decades.”

READ MORE: Greece to Extend border fence by 80 kilometres.