ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to participate in the July 20 Peace and Freedom ceremonies in northern Cyprus. The latest developments on the island are expected to set the agenda for talks between Erdoğan and Turkish Cypriot officials.
Erdoğan, who will fly to northern Cyprus late Friday, will meet with Turkish Cypriot President Mehmet Ali Talat, Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer and Foreign Minister Turgay Avcı.
Turkey's silence regarding the ongoing talks between Talat and Greek Cypriot leader Demitris Christofias has been raising questions. Although Turkish officials have yet to officially comment on the recent compromise between the Cypriot leaders, the tentative agreement, based on �single sovereignty and citizenship,� runs contrary to Ankara's long-standing position.
Rival leaders in Cyprus met in Nicosia on July 1 to lay the groundwork for historic negotiations to reunify the divided island. After four-and-a-half hours of talks described as difficult, Talat and Christofias agreed, in principle, that any settlement should involve a single state with common citizenship for all Cypriots.
Opponents argue that this recent compromise falls short of even the U.N.-backed Annan plan and violates red lines previously established by the Turkish side.
The details of the issue are expected to take shape once full-fledged negotiations between Cypriot leaders get under way, which are expected in September. Some observers believe the reason behind Ankara's cautious silence may be Turkey's belief that the process of comprehensive negotiations is ongoing and possible interference may be too early.
Others, however, say Turkey's current position is surprising given the prompt reactions from Ankara in 2004 when the Annan plan was put to separate referenda on both parts of the island. At that time, the Turkish government campaigned for the U.N. blueprint, something that gave the Turkish side an upper hand in its relations with the European Union.
Also, the political uncertainty in Turkey is considered to be another reason preventing Ankara from speaking out about developments on the divided island. The court case seeking to outlaw the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and a series of arrests concerning a shadowy group dubbed �Ergenekon,� may have pushed the Cyprus problem into the periphery of Turkey's agenda. Still, Ankara is exerting maximum efforts to maintain its pro-reunification image abroad.
Despite all, the ongoing silence in the capital does not deter Turkish Foreign Ministry officials from making a reference to existing U.N. parameters, while pointing to a final solution in Cyprus. Last week, Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Özügergin's emphasis on a �bi-zonal and bi-communal solution,� as specified in the Annan plan, was seen as reiterating Turkey's position. Nevertheless, Ankara's approach toward a political settlement in Cyprus and the negotiations directly depend on how the court case against the AKP will be concluded, according to observers.