Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday said Azerbaijan’s approach to recognising the north “has reached the same position” as Turkey’s.

Erdogan was speaking at Ankara’s Esenboga airport ahead of his trip to the United States for this week’s Nato summit in Washington DC, and took questions over various matters, including the weekend’s Organisation of Turkic States (OTS) meeting in Azerbaijan, which Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar had attended in the capacity of “president of the TRNC”.

Erdogan had initially been due to attend it himself but sent his Vice President Cevdet Yilmaz to deputise as he had instead travelled to Germany to watch the Turkish national football team play at Euro 2024.

Despite his non-attendance at the summit, he was categorical in his statements on Tuesday, saying that the north should not only have its status as an observer of the OTS ratified, but that it should become a full OTS member.

In our eyes, the TRNC is already a full member of the group of Turkic states. The states’ approach, especially that of Azerbaijan, has reached the same position as ours … From this point forwards, we are trying to figure out how to take the TRNC to the point of full membership [of the OTS],” he said.

He added that the idea was being “developed” with other Turkic states.

The summit, which took place in the town of Shusha, saw high profile Turkish Cypriots accepted into the OTS’ fold, sitting as equals with members of the governments of OTS members including Turkey, Azerbaijan and European Union member Hungary.

Tatar had sat down with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and others at a leaders’ dinner on Saturday, while the north’s ‘foreign minister’ Tahsin Ertugruloglu had done the same with Hungarian EU Affairs Minister Janos Boka on Friday night.

Following a bilateral meeting between Tatar and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev on Friday night, the former had said the latter “attaches great importance to the TRNC”, a claim evidenced by Aliyev’s insistence on referring to Tatar as the “TRNC President” and the north as the “TRNC.

The summit, and Hungary’s presence at it, drew the ire of the EU, with the bloc’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell issuing a scathing statement on Sunday.

He was quick to remind the world that Hungary, which currently holds the European Council’s rotating presidency after taking over from Belgium last week, does not have the right to unilaterally represent the EU externally.

Hungary has not received any mandate from the European Council to advance relations with the OTS. The EU rejects the attempts by the OTS to legitimise the Turkish Cypriot secessionist entity,” he said.

He added that should the OTS’ member states’ parliaments ratify the north’s observer status or make it a member, it will be “regrettable”, and “contradict the fact that several members of the organisation expressed strong support for the principle of territorial integrity.”

Cyprus’ foreign ministry was equally scathing, issuing a “strong condemnation” of the meeting and describing Hungary’s presence as a “serious slip”.

They added their “strong disappointment and dissatisfaction” at the Hungarian presence.

“We expect that all our European partners, including [Hungary], will fully respect the United Nations resolutions on Cyprus, international law, and the obligations arising from their status as EU member states,” they said.