The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is hoping to become an official member of the Organization of Turkic States (OTS) at an informal summit of the heads of OTS members this Saturday.

President Ersin Tatar arrived in Azerbaijan on Thursday to attend the summit and was received at Heydar Aliyev International Airport by Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Yalchin Rafiyev, Turkish Ambassador to Azerbaijan Cahit Bağcı, the representative of the TRNC in Baku, Ufuk Turganer, and representatives of Turkish institutions and organizations.

The OTS was established in 2009 as an intergovernmental organization to promote comprehensive cooperation among Turkic states.

The TRNC is an observer state of the Organization of Turkic States and holds a seat in several cooperative groups but is eager for full membership.

It shares the northern strip of the divided island of Cyprus with the Greek Cypriot administration in the south.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Türkiye, as a guarantor power, prompted by a coup aimed at Greece’s annexation of the Island, launched a military intervention dubbed the Cyprus Peace Operation to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the TRNC was founded on Nov. 15, 1983.

Since then, the violence has stopped, but tensions continue, including over who holds sway on the Island’s exclusive offshore economic zone, over 40% of which was claimed by Türkiye following recent natural gas discoveries.

Türkiye doesn’t recognize the Greek Cypriot administration as a state and still keeps some 35,000 troops in the TRNC.

The summit could be a “huge step” in recognizing the TRNC, according to Aygün Attar, member of Türkiye’s Presidential Security and Foreign Policy Council and chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Türkiye-Azerbaijan Friendship, Cooperation and Solidarity Foundation (TADIV).

“The Shusha Summit would be a significant step toward recognizing Cyprus,” Attar told Anadolu Agency (AA) in an interview on Friday.

Stating that TRNC’s prime minister was invited to the anniversary event of the Shusha Declaration, organized by Azerbaijan’s ruling party to commemorate the day the declaration was signed, Attar said the establishment of friendship between the Parliaments of Azerbaijan and the TRNC and the appointment of members are “all significant developments.”

“For the first time, President Tatar will attend this summit upon the invitation of the Azerbaijani president. We expect that this summit will be rich in messages and substantial in content,” Attar added.

Mentioning that inviting the TRNC as an observer to the OTS is “important,” Attar further said she expects Baku to follow suit and declare recognition of the TRNC as a state, as Ankara has done.

“If time is needed for this process, Azerbaijan will undertake this process in accordance with international law and in a manner that no one can object to. We have seen the determination and capability of Azerbaijan in all steps taken toward Northern Cyprus so far,” she added.

Attar highlighted that the Shusha Declaration has elevated the Ankara-Baku relationship from fraternal to allied, underscoring its profound importance in shaping the current form of OTS.

“The process leading countries to become members or observers of the OTS began with the signing in Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan.

“The strategic cooperation and allied relationship between Türkiye and Azerbaijan clearly resonate among other members of the OTS, making it highly significant in this regard,” she added.

Normalization between Ankara, Baku, Yerevan

Attar said that after the Karabakh victory, Türkiye started a normalization process with Armenia in accordance with international law, but Yerevan has stated it did not reciprocate those steps, due to the “Armenian diaspora.”

“The most crucial aspect of the normalization process is for Armenia to abandon its territorial claims against Türkiye, which would require amending the Armenian Constitution to remove the part claiming Mount Ağrı and any related territorial claims.

“Concrete steps from Armenia in this regard are awaited by Türkiye,” she added.

Ankara has taken every step necessary “up to now,” she noted, urging the Yerevan government to take steps toward a normalization process with Ankara.

Underlining Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s acknowledgment of Azerbaijan’s negotiation stance in his speech at the Armenian parliament, Attar added: “Just like Türkiye’s relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan’s relations with Armenia also demand the complete elimination of any territorial claims against both Azerbaijan and Türkiye.”

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