Erdogan said this during his official visit to Northern Cyprus, 47 years after Turkey’s military occupation of the territory.
The Greek Cypriot-majority state (the Republic of Cyprus) is the only internationally recognised state on the island. It is a member of the UN and the European Union. All countries, save for Turkey, regard it to be sovereign over the whole island.
The Republic of Cyprus, however, has not controlled the north of the island since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded the area. In 1983, the northern parliament passed a unilateral declaration of independence that established the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
The TRNC’s independence has only been recognised by Turkey, which maintains tens of thousands of troops there. It is that country that Erdogan is now demanding be recognised as an “equal and sovereign state”, on an equal footing with the Republic of Cyprus. The same demand was floated by Northern Cyprus President Ersin Tatar at the most recent round of UN-sponsored peace talks, in April.
Greek and Cypriot media report that Erdogan is ready to launch a diplomatic offensive aimed at getting a country other than Turkey to recognise the independence of the TRNC. Azerbaijan and Pakistan are among the candidates. Indeed, an Azerbaijani parliamentary delegation has visited Northern Cyprus for the first time. Erdogan has announced more “high-level” visits to the territory by international delegations, “especially from Azerbaijan.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyden has insisted that the EU will “never accept” the partition of Cyprus.