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France accuses Erdogan of 'provocation' over Cyprus visit, remarks

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (Photo by AFP)

France has accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of "provocation" by pushing for a two-state solution in divided Cyprus during a visit to the small Mediterranean island.

"France deeply regrets this unilateral move, which was not coordinated and constitutes a provocation," the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

"It undermines the restoration of the confidence necessary for the urgent resumption of negotiations for a just and lasting settlement of the Cyprus question," the statement added.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also expressed support for Cyprus and threatened to raise the issue at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), on which he holds the rotational presidency this month.

Pointing to the intention to take the issue to the UNSC, the Foreign Ministry statement said, "France reaffirms its attachment to the framework endorsed by the UN Security Council, based on a bizonal and bicommunal federation, offering the two communities full guarantees of their political equality."

The development came a day after Erdogan declared during a visit to northern Cyprus that the resolution of disputes over the divided territory was only possible through peace talks between "the two states" on the Mediterranean island.

Turkey launched a military operation on July 20, 1974 in an apparent bid to protect the island's Turkish Cypriot community following a coup attempt. Cyprus has since been divided into the Turkish Cypriot-controlled northern and the Greek Cypriot-controlled southern territories.

Also on Tuesday, Ankara slammed statements by European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in support of Cyprus as "null and void" and insisted that Brussels had no role to play in settling the decades-old dispute.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement that criticism of Turkey by Borrell showed he was "acting as spokesperson or advocate for the Greek Cypriot administration and Greece who abuse their right to veto within the EU."

Earlier in the day, Borrell had blasted Erdogan's statements on reopening the Cypriot town of Varosha made during the visit to the divided Mediterranean island and warned against "unilateral actions in breach of international law and renewed provocations."

Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades had earlier condemned Erdogan's visit as "provocative and illegal," accusing Ankara of showing "no respect for international law, European principles and values, and its obligations towards the EU."

Turkey and Greece, both NATO members, have also been embroiled in a long-running territorial dispute in the eastern Mediterranean over the region's resources.

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