Statements made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that all Cyprus could have been Turkish are “unacceptable”, government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said on Tuesday.

During an official event on Monday, Erdogan defended the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and argued that if Turkish forces had moved further south, then “Cyprus might be all Turkish today”.

“The unacceptable statements by Erdogan once again demonstrate the obvious, that archaic guarantees have no place in a modern, European state,” Letymbiotis said.

“Yesterday’s statements are condemnable, unacceptable, and provocative. For 50 years now, Cyprus, a full member state of the EU, has been under occupation following the barbaric invasion of 1974.”

The shameful remarks and the timing chosen by President Erdogan demonstrate a lack of respect for international law, European acquis, UN Security Council resolutions, and the Secretary-General himself, whose personal envoy was in our country just 24 hours ago with a mission to create conditions for restarting negotiations within the agreed framework, Letymbiotis continued.

Erdogan also said that “half a century ago, the Turkish Cypriots came back from the brink of genocide.

“In 1974, a total of 498 of our soldiers from all corners of the country were martyred. Despite all the pressures, if it were not for Turkey’s intervention, neither the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus nor the Turkish Cypriots would exist today.

“In fact, perhaps if we had pushed south, there would be no more south and north and Cyprus would be completely ours,” Erdogan added.

The Turkish president chooses to send a message of division, blatantly violating and ignoring UN Security Council resolutions,” Letymbiotis said.

“As the Republic of Cyprus, we will continue to exert all our efforts to restart negotiations from where they left off, aiming for the definitive resolution of the Cyprus problem, based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, fully aligned and consistent with UN Security Council resolutions. This is our historic responsibility and our highest national priority.”

When asked if the government believes, after Erdogan’s statements, that there is still a possibility that UN envoy Maria Holguin will succeed, Letymbiotis said that “her presence on the island opens a new period in our efforts to restart negotiations.

“Her appointment by the UN Secretary General demonstrates the commitment to efforts to restart negotiations.

We will not allow anyone to divert us from this mission, that is, the resolution of the Cyprus problem within the agreed framework. It will not be solved through public statements, and we will not tolerate or accept such statements from Turkey,” Letymbiotis concluded.