Turkish and Cypriot leaders to meet amid rising Mediterranean tensions

he newly elected President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Ersin Tatar, will meet today with Cypriot President

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Photo: Hurriyet

he newly elected President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Ersin Tatar, will meet today with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.

This first encounter between Tatar and Anastasiades has immense implications for Cypriot reunification. Cyprus has been divided following a 1974 Turkish invasion that sought to protect Cyprus’s ethnic Turkish minority. Following several unsuccessful peace initiatives between 1977 and 2017, there is growing concern that decades of stalled talks have sapped the political will necessary to resolve the conflict.

Tatar’s tenure will likely further undermine Cypriot reunification efforts. Unlike his predecessor, Mustafa Akinci, who was deeply committed to Cypriot reunification, Tatar is an ardent Turkish nationalist who endorses a two-state solution.

Expect Tatar to break with Akinci’s balancing act and align the TRNC behind Turkey’s increasingly bellicose stance in the Eastern Mediterranean. Speaking alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently, Tatar underscored that Turkey’s offer of an informal conference among the parties is the “last chance” for a unified Cyprus before the TRNC renounces negotiations on the basis of reunification. Accordingly, it is likely that the de facto division will endure, with low prospects of a united Cyprus in the medium-term.