OIC welcomes Turkish Cypriot request to join: chief

AFP, Sunday 8 Apr 2012

The head of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference calls on Muslims around the world, and member states, to strengthen their solidarity with Turkish Cypriots in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos (R) shakes hands with Cypriot President Demetris Christofias in Nicosia April 5, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

The head of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference welcomed Saturday a request by the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to open a permanent mission to the pan-Muslim body.

"The organisation welcomes this and is in contact with the host state (Saudi Arabia) to study and implement it," OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, who is a Turkish national, told reporters after meeting Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.

The TRNC — which is recognised internationally only by Turkey — currently holds only observer status in the 57-member OIC.

"The time has come for the international community to recognise the TRNC and review UN resolutions," on the matter, said Eroglu.

"If peace negotiations [with the internationally recognised Greek Cypriot-led government] fail, despite our efforts and those of the United Nations, then there will be no choice left but to recognise the TRNC," he said.

Ihsanoglu called for "putting an end to the unjust isolation of Turkish Cypriots," an OIC statement said.

The statement called on OIC member states, Muslims around the world and the entire international community "to strengthen effective solidarity and continue to expand relations with the Turkish Cypriot people."

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops occupied the east Mediterranean island's northern third in response to a Greek-inspired coup in Nicosia aimed at union with Greece.

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