(MENAFN - Arab News) The 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation has welcomed a request by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to open its permanent representative office at the OIC, said Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the OIC.
Addressing a press conference here yesterday after talks with the republic's president Dr. Dervis Eroglu, Ihsanoglu said he would discuss the matter with the organization's host country Saudi Arabia.
The OIC chief said his organization would give priority to ending the illegitimate isolation imposed on the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and pledged OIC's solidarity with the republic at political, economic, social and cultural levels.
However, he urged both Turkish and Greek Cypriots not to miss the opportunity for negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations in order to set up a federal system and hoped the talks would lead to a just and lasting political solution to the issue.
This is Eroglu's first visit to the OIC and it comes following Ihsanoglu's visit to Nicosia in November when he met with the president as well as the republic's foreign and higher education ministers.
Ihsanoglu also announced the Turkish Cypriots' plan to host an investment forum in cooperation with the Islamic Development Bank next week. "We hope the forum would open new horizons of investment cooperation between the republic and OIC countries," the secretary-general said.
Eroglu said he would meet with IDB President Ahmed Muhammad Ali to discuss preparations for the forum. Eroglu urged the OIC to support his country's political rights and called upon OIC member countries to end the siege on his country imposed by the European Union.
Speaking to Arab News at the Turkish Consulate General in Jeddah on Friday, Eroglu called on Saudi Arabia and other OIC countries to support his state in ending its isolation and protect its rights.
He hoped Saudi Arabia would take the lead in Muslim countries to recognize Turkish Cyprus. "Saudi Arabia is a big country. It enjoys close relations with the US and Turkey. We expect Riyadh to take concrete steps in light of the OIC resolution on Cyprus in order to help us end this isolation," he said.
Eroglu came to the Kingdom at the invitation of the OIC chief. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is an observer member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the president expressed his desire to become a full OIC member.
Eroglu said there is no point in continuing talks with Greek Cypriots as negotiations in the past have failed to reach a settlement. "I believe the world, especially Islamic countries would recognize the fact that Greek Cypriots do not want any settlement."
Eroglu had a meeting recently with his Greek Cypriot counterpart Demetris Christofias in the presence of a UN special adviser. Cyprus is taking the presidency of the European Union in July 2012 and in February 2013 there will be Greek Cypriot presidential elections.
The Turkish Cypriot leader backed the UN plan to hold a multiparty conference including Turkey, Greece and UK. "This may be the last chance for a settlement in Cyprus," Eroglu said and offered his readiness to the make the conference successful.
The Turkish Cypriot president said his republic was expecting full support from Islamic countries. "More than 300,000 Muslims in the republic are struggling for their existence and their rights. Greek Cypriots want to make us refugees in our own country just like the Palestinians," he pointed out.
He said the United Nations have so far failed to solve the Cyprus issue. "Seven or eight secretaries general have come after the issue, but we could not see any settlement in Cyprus. We expect the UN to change its resolutions so that it can recognize Turkish Cyprus and we can have our own state and our own rights."
In another development, Ihsanoglu said the OIC would launch a humanitarian program for the Syrians. An OIC mission has estimated the cost of humanitarian relief required by Syria at 70 million including food, medicine and shelter for refugees.