LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
The informal 5+1 Cyprus talks in Geneva are a turning point for northern Cypriots, the foreign minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said Wednesday.
In Geneva, after almost 60 years, the policy of the Turkish side was clearly reflected on the agenda of the international community, raised in a way that does not cause any doubts, and this is the beginning of a process, Tahsin Ertugruloglu noted.
He said the six articles put forward by the Turkish side in Geneva should not be interpreted as a “six-point document,” noting that these are the materialization of the issues that the Turkish side insisted on on its way to Geneva, not a package of proposals.
Ertugruloglu noted that in Geneva, they will put sovereign equality and equal international status on the table, and they go to Geneva saying that these are their red lines in search of common ground and this is known to everyone.
He also stressed that the proposal did not come to the table in Geneva, saying the policy set out at the 5+1 meeting should not be interpreted as an unknown and surprise policy in any way, and those who try to reflect it in this way also make unfair criticism.
‘Cyprus issue is status issue’
“It is our sovereignty that we defend, it is the equal status of our state. ‘The Cyprus issue is a status issue,’ we have repeatedly stressed,” Ertugruloglu said.
He said that as long as the Greek side is treated as a “state” and the Turkish side as a “society,” this status problem is fueled so that there is no agreement in any negotiation process.
Recalling that the position and mantle laid out by Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiadis in Geneva is not out of the question for them to reach an agreement, he noted that the mantle laid out by Anastasiadis is a mantle shared by the entire Greek Cypriot leadership.
“This [Anastasiadis’ stance] is an indication of the Greek Cypriot side’s bigoted, domineering and historical misperception of the Cyprus issue as a whole.
“Therefore, we do not owe anyone an apology for the policy we have put forward in Geneva, nor do we have the idea of backing down from the position put forward in Geneva at the later stages of the Cyprus issue,” said Ertugruloglu.
“The existence of our state, its equal international status, and the sovereign right of the Turkish Cypriot people are never issues that will be compromised,” he underlined.
Ertugruloglu said it “doesn’t matter if the Greek side will accept it or not. We will neither give up our sovereignty nor our state just because the Greek side will not accept it.”
“This is our struggle for freedom, the message that the island of Cyprus will never be a Hellenic island again, as it has never been in history.”
Ertugruloglu, who stressed that the Turkish side will be there if UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres makes a new call, said they are not afraid of anyone and do not run away from dialogue.
‘In Cyprus, agreement passes through acceptance of TRNC’
“But will the Greek side participate, it is a question mark. If the second Geneva or another city meeting takes place, I can already say that as the Turkish side, we will have no mission other than to literally renew our position in Geneva,” he said.
Stating that no one has the right to step back from the state, no matter what political opinion he has, he said “I have always stressed that the agreement in Cyprus passes through the acceptance of the TRNC. If there is an agreement, the signature will be placed under this agreement document by saying ‘on behalf of the TRNC,’ not on behalf of the ‘Turkish Cypriot community.’”
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long struggle between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN 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 Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus 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 UN settlement plan in a referendum that year, which had envisaged a reunited Cyprus joining the EU.
*Writing by Merve Berker