By Ilker Girit
Turkey on Friday criticized a joint statement of southern EU member states on the Cyprus issue as both distorted and unhelpful.
The joint declaration at the Fourth Summit of the Southern EU Countries (Med7) contained "distorted and unconstructive statements regarding the Cyprus settlement process," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"These statements reflect the Greek Cypriot stance that was the main reason for the failure of the negotiation process which began on the Island in 2008 and ended in 2017 with the closure of the Conference on Cyprus without an outcome," the ministry said, referring to peace talks in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, which collapsed last July.
The summit, with the participation of Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Malta and the Greek Cypriot administration, was held on Wednesday in Rome.
The declaration stated that the countries support a resolution of the Cyprus problem in line with "the EU acquis, that reunifies Cyprus and its people, and which safeguards Cyprus’ sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, without guarantees."
Cyprus “is and will remain a member of the European Union after the settlement, and EU membership is the best safeguard for a reunified Cyprus," it added.
But the Foreign Ministry said the declaration provided "yet another example of how the Greek Cypriot side takes advantage of its EU membership in its efforts to hinder a settlement."
The ministry added that such statements "do not provide any positive contribution to the efforts to reach a settlement of the Cyprus issue."
The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks, and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was declared on Nov. 15, 1983. It is currently recognized only by Turkey as an independent state.
The status of the island remains unresolved in spite of a series of peace proposals, including the UN Annan plan, which Turkish Cypriots accepted in a 2004 referendum, but failed after being rejected by Greek Cypriot voters.