President Tatar calls for a ‘Cyprus reality-check’ to usher in ‘a new era of co-operation and mutual respect’ between Turkish and Greek Cypriots
The president was speaking ahead of his trip to Geneva this week for informal talks with the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and the foreign ministers of the island’s three Guarantor Powers, Turkey, Britain and Greece. The meeting is being held on the invitation of the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. Cyprus has been ethnically divided following the outbreak of the conflict in December 1963, when the numerically larger Greek Cypriot partner forcefully seized control of the three-year-old bi-communal partnership Republic of Cyprus. Forced out of government for refusing to forgo their political equality, Turkish Cypriots quickly formed their own administration, which was declared as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in 1983. CONT.
There have been eleven major plans and initiatives to settle the Cyprus issue since 1964. Eight of these have been based on the ‘bi-zonal, bi-communal’ federal settlement model that was first adopted by the UN in 1977. Turkish Cypriots have accepted every single proposal, while Greek Cypriots have rejected all of them, including the 2004 Annan Plan, which was put to a simultaneous referendum. The Greek Cypriot side also blocked progress at the 2017 Crans Montana Summit, which was named by all parties as “the final attempt” to resolve the issue through the bi-communal, bi-zonal federalism formula. President Tatar was elected on a two-state mandate in October 2020 and wants to redefine the UN parameters to increase the chances of a sustainable settlement deal.
“We’ve had decades of failed federation talks. This is adequate proof that federalism is not an appropriate settlement model for Cyprus. Federalism needs interdependence, mutual trust and most of all strong mutual interests for its establishment and sustenance. These do not exist in Cyprus. “If Greek Cypriots don’t want to share power with us, that’s OK. We can continue to function and stimulate co-operation as two separate States. What is not OK is for Turkish Cypriots to endure ongoing isolation and discrimination. That must stop!” the TRNC President said.
“European nations, Germany among them, took just six years to put the horrors of the Second World War behind them and focus on forging a common future. Yet more than fifty years on from 1963, we have yet to establish good neighbourly relations between the two sides,” said President Tatar. “Even before the pandemic, trade levels and the movement of people across the Green Line was woefully low. We need to change that, to encourage more commercial, cultural and political ties, which can only happen if there is mutual respect and equality,” he continued.
“It’s time for a Cyprus reality-check. Our two States is the legacy of the Cyprus conflict, and suffering and the polarisation of the two peoples will continue as long as the status quo remains. For the sake of future generations and for regional peace and stability, we need to end this dispute, and start normalising relations between the two States of the island. “Turkish Cypriots exist, we have our own State and we have rights. It’s vital the international community acknowledges this and helps us to expand the UN parameters, which in turn will pave the way for a fair and sustainable permanent settlement,” Tatar concluded.