“The sovereignty of Northern Cyprus is vital for Turkey’s security”

The existence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) as a sovereign state is as important for Turkey’s security as it is for Turkish Cypriots, the TRNC Chairman said on Thursday.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Ersin Tatar said that a two-state solution on the island of Cyprus based on equal sovereignty, which is fully supported by Turkey, is essential to enter the negotiation process formal.

“No results having been achieved in 50 years, it is no longer possible to hold negotiations on a federal structure in Cyprus,” Tatar said.

He also commented on the UN Security Council’s discussion of the Cyprus report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres covering developments between July and December 2021.

Tatar welcomed Guterres’ statement in his latest report, saying the UN chief has confirmed that formal talks on the Cyprus issue cannot begin as the two sides cannot find common ground until the Sovereign equality and the international equal status of the TRNC are not recognised.

He also welcomed the United States’ withdrawal of its support for the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Pipeline (EastMed), a planned gas pipeline that would transport Israeli fuel from the Eastern Mediterranean to Greece, saying “this is not a project feasible”.

During the partial reopening of the Maras region in the TNRC in October 2020, Tatar said that through this step they gave a message to the whole world that “the game has now changed in Cyprus, and the Turkish Cypriot side has developed a new vision regarding the Cyprus issue.”

The partial reopening of the region has contributed to the economic structure and tourism potential of the TRNC, Tatar noted.

Maras had practically become a ghost town as it remained cut off from the world for some 47 years.

Part of the area – about 3.5% of the total area – was reopened in October 2020, with visitors invited to visit between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily.

Maras was abandoned after a 1984 UN Security Council resolution declaring that only its original inhabitants could resettle the town.

Entry into the city was prohibited, except for Turkish army personnel stationed in the TRNC.

Turkish and TRNC authorities have repeatedly called on Greek Cypriots and other citizens who own property in Maras to apply to the Property Commission.

– Decades-long conflict

Cyprus is mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to reach a comprehensive settlement.

Ethnic attacks from the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to retreat to enclaves for their safety.

In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at the annexation of the island by Greece led to the military intervention of Turkey as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the TRNC was founded in 1983.

It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed initiative in 2017 in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom.

The Greek Cypriot administration joined the European Union in 2004, the same year the Greek Cypriots thwarted a UN plan to end the long-running dispute.

* Written by Zehra Nur Duz.

Sharon P. Juarez