The United States joined the chorus of condemnation over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the abandoned resort of Varosha on the northern third of Cyprus occupied by Turkey, but stopped short of doing anything about it.
“President Erdogan’s recent visit was a step in the wrong direction,” a State Department spokesperson said, adding that the US supports efforts to de-escalate tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and continues to demand dialogue and respect for international law.
“The US continues to support a comprehensive solution for the reunification of Cyprus on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation,” the spokesperson said, reported Kathimerini.
Erdogan has shown he’s stopped listening to criticism, including from the US as President Donald Trump his his friend who does him favors, the Turkish leader otherwise ignoring State Department tweets and statements.
Erdogan in October opened part of the beachfront at the once-famous site that in the 1960’s especially had been a playground for the rich and famous and celebrities but has fallen into disrepair, frozen in time when Turkey invaded in 1974.
That gave an edge to his hand-picked candidate to be the Turkish-Cypriot leader, hardline nationalist and self-declared premier Ersin Tatar, who unseated moderate Mustafa Akinci, who had disagreed with Erdogan wanting two states on the island and not a federal government.
Tatar said he would do whatever Erdogan wants, essentially killing for now any hopes of reunification, the last round of talks collapsing in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.
Those came apart when Erdogan and Akinci said they would never remove a 35,000-strong standing army on the occupied side and wanted the right of further military intervention, which drove away Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
The US, while not supporting Anastasiades’ ignored requests to the United Nations to get Turkey to stop drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters – the Cypriot President said he wouldn’t negotiate while that was going on – did show some displeasure in another way.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went to Constantinople to meet Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios but snubbed Turkish officials and didn’t go to Ankara to meet Erdogan.