The talks ended when Turkey rejected Clerides' request for 36 to 48 hours to consult with the Cypriot and Greek governments. Turkey strongly opposes the EastMed pipeline, which will carry the natural resources of Cyprus and Israel to mainland Europe. It is a feat of which Alemdar is particularly proud, given the cooperation with the authorities and the respect for religious freedom in Cyprus that it demonstrates. Buffer zone running through Nicosia and the giant flag of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in the background.
More recently, the Greek government of the Republic of Cyprus has taken unilateral decisions on hydrocarbon-related initiatives, creating major tensions with Turkey and Turkish Cypriots. Buried among rolling hills, Vavla looks like a fragment of old Cyprus, with its winding cobbled lanes and ageing white stone buildings. Turkey has tried to promote its brand of Islamism in northern Cyprus, building mosques and funding allied local politicians. Only a joint intervention by key eastern Mediterranean countries such as Egypt and Israel could ease tensions between Greece and Turkey and, consequently, between the two political parties in Cyprus.
He was also a member of EOKA, or the National Organisation of Cypriot Struggle, a terrorist group that in the 1950s fought for the elimination of the British presence in Cyprus, as well as for the enosis union with Greece. Erdogan is not seen as personally involved in Cyprus; the Greek government, for its part, is grappling with a persistent economic crisis. After a 45-minute bus ride from Nicosia to Larnaca, I find a coastline lined with hotels and flats, in stark contrast to much of northern Cyprus. In 1974, following a Greek-inspired military coup, Turkey invaded the geopolitically valuable island, beginning an occupation of the northern third of Cyprus that has lasted to this day.
The response has as much to do with internal politics on both sides of the island as with pressures from Turkey and Greece, as well as from Britain, the colonial-era ruler of Cyprus, James Ker-Lindsay, an academic at the London School of Economics and author of several books on the Cyprus conflict, said in a telephone interview. Cyprus has a population of 1.1 million, roughly the same as Rhode Island, but in an area three and a half times larger. Cyprus has been through numerous wars and foreign occupations, and one of the legacies of this history is the division between the Greek and Turkish parts of the island. He tells me that, like so many other historic houses in rural Cyprus, the property almost fell into ruin.
Although the present building was built when the Ottomans ruled Cyprus, Hala Sultan Tekke has its roots in the 7th century.