Turkish Cyprus ready for UN-led talks, 'two-state solution' on agenda

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is ready to attend the United Nations-led talks in Geneva this week as President Ersin Tatar highlighted their determined position on a two-state solution while expressing his confidence in Turkey’s support.

Tatar answered an Anadolu Agency (AA) correspondent’s questions before the U.N.-led conference on Cyprus, which will be held on April 27-29 with the participation of the Cypriot parties and the guarantor powers Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom within the scope of the informal 5+1 format.

Noting that after his election as the president of Turkish Cyprus, Tatar said that the Turkish side has put forward its new policy on the Cyprus issue with peace of mind and that there is no longer hope for a federal agreement in Cyprus.

Four years after their last peace talks failed, rival Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders will meet in Geneva next week to explore elusive “common ground” on the divided Mediterranean island.

Tatar reiterated that Cyprus negotiations have been held since 1968 and after the agreement between the founding president of Turkish Cyprus, Rauf Denktaş, and Archbishop Makarios in 1977 to achieve a solution on a federal basis, the Greek side rejected eight separate plans, while the Turkish side accepted them all.

Recalling that the Turks also said “yes” in the referendum for the Annan Plan in 2004 and the Greeks said “no,” Tatar expressed: “In 2017, the Turks in Crans Montana were open to dialogue and the table was turned after the abandonment of talks by Greek leader Nikos Anastasiadis. Afterward, the Turks assessed the situation, concluding, ‘Now there is no hope for an agreement on a federal basis. Now a new path will probably be taken.’ The same assessment was also made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı who were also present.”

“Neither Cyprus is the old Cyprus, nor is the Eastern Mediterranean the old Eastern Mediterranean,” Tatar said and added Turkey’s regional policies evolve in accordance with the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Cyprus has been mired in a decadeslong struggle between the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the U.N. to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

The island has been divided since 1964 when ethnic attacks forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aiming at Greece’s annexation led to Turkey’s military intervention as a guarantor power. The TRNC was founded in 1983.

The Greek Cypriot administration, backed by Greece, became a member of the European Union in 2004, although most Greek Cypriots rejected a U.N. settlement plan in a referendum that year, which had envisaged a reunited Cyprus joining the EU.

“Right now, I put my new vision (the two-state solution) forward with great peace of mind and pleasure because we have the full support of Turkey,” he said, expressing his thanks to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other Turkish officials. “I want to point out that our hand has been strengthened because of the support they have given us,” Tatar continued.

Tatar pointed to the new situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and that the TRNC is an important Turkish state in the region. He emphasized that from now on, they will advocate a separate state model in Cyprus and that this is the correct and most natural way to reach a solution.

“The peace and stability that was achieved with the arrival of Turkish soldiers on the island in 1974 have continued to this day. In order to keep this, that balance must be preserved. That balance is a fair, permanent and comprehensive agreement based on two states on Cyprus,” the Cypriot president highlighted.

Tatar emphasized that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has mastered the Cyprus issue and that he has put a lot of effort into the Crans Montana process.

Pointing out that Guterres’ trouble is the U.N. parameters based on the bi-communal and bi-regional federation that has been negotiated for 50 years, Tatar said, “He also knows that there are realistic grounds in these parameters after the Annan Plan and the events in Crans Montana.“

Tatar emphasized that Guterres’ task is to bring the two sides together on common ground and to achieve an agreement with the free will of the two sides and stated that they will never back down from the Turkish side’s position.

The president further emphasized that the only remedy for national interests, the survival of the Turkish Cypriots and to live in the country in safety is to own a separate state and underlined that the wish of the Greeks is to “patch them (Turkish Cypriots)” into their state.

Tatar continued: “The Greeks still talk about whether the island is a Greek or a Hellenic island. I believe that our people generally support the formula of two states because there is a lot of confusion in the issue of a federation. They always talk to people about equality and the federation as the best solution. The truth is, currently under the rule of the Greeks, which is evolving within the EU, they aim to form the Republic of Cyprus, which will be a federal republic. They plan to involve Turks in this republic and abolish them in time and eventually become the sole owners of the island.”

In case of failure to reach common ground in the negotiations, Tatar said, as the Turkish Cypriots, they will continue to strengthen their state and bring welfare, peace and tranquility to the Turkish people.

Emphasizing that they always advocate a permanent agreement in Cyprus through negotiations, Tatar said, “We have not adopted a habit of running away from the table, but it will not benefit us to jump into a mistake just for the sake of an agreement.”

“The EU will definitely not be at the table in Geneva. For the Turkish Cypriots, the EU is an (opposing) side (on the issue),” Tatar said. He added that they met with EU officials before, and they could also hold bilateral talks, but that the EU could not be at the table in Geneva and they have already responded to this issue.

The president continued: “Both Greece and the Greek Cypriot side are in the EU. Therefore, the EU is under their domination and management. Consequently, it is not possible for them (the EU) to be objective and impartial at the table in Geneva.”

Tatar stated that he will meet with Erdoğan in Ankara on April 26 and that meetings between the delegations will be held, and on the morning of April 27, they will travel to Geneva as the Turkish side.

Tatar, thanking once again the hearts of the Turkish public, expressed, “Cyprus has always been strong at the negotiating table with the support of Turkey.”

Noting that he has been dealing with the Cyprus issue since his childhood, Tatar stated that he was excited before the meeting where this historic step will be taken.