March 27, 2023

President Ersin Tatar and Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, declares: “What is important for us is to put forward proposals based on cooperation between the island’s two Sides”

President Ersin Tatar received the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Türkiye, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who was holding official contacts in the TRNC.

Their tête-à-tête, followed by a meeting of delegates from the two countries, culminated in a joint press conference. President Ersin Tatar and Mr Çavuşoğlu both emphasised the sovereign equality of the two Sides in Cyprus and underlined that any formal negotiations between them would not take place on 54-year-old federal grounds, now exhausted, but on a State-to-State basis.

Responding to “unacceptable” proposals repeatedly put forward by Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades in the guise of so-called confidence-building measures, President Tatar said the Turkish side was working on and would soon announce proposals for cooperation between the island’s two Sides that would benefit both Peoples.  He referred to the new vision for a two States settlement – based on sovereign equality and equal international status – put forward in Geneva, Switzerland, in April 2021 by the Turkish Cypriot side, supported by the Republic of Türkiye, saying: “The Turkish Cypriot side announced to the [United Nations] and to the whole world, at the 5+UN informal meeting in Geneva, that formal negotiations could commence on the basis of two States with sovereign equality and equal international status. We see this as pivotal for sustainable peace and stability in Cyprus and it also conforms to the factual realities of the island. Lessons must be learned from the past and nobody can deny that the Greek Cypriot side has consistently rejected an equality-based settlement for over half a century. It is time to move on and turn a new page; to adopt a new basis for negotiations. The Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who was also in Geneva [that] April, supported our proposal – put forward for the first time – and since then Türkiye continues to demonstrate full support for that new policy . . . in various international meetings and contacts worldwide.”
The President thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Mr Çavuşoğlu for their backing.

“Our understanding of ‘common ground’ is our sovereign equality and equal international status”
President Tatar added: “The UN Secretary-General stated during the meetings in Geneva [in April 2021] and in a tripartite meeting in New York last September, that if there is common ground between the two sides, the formal negotiating process can begin. We constantly share with them our understanding of what ‘common ground’ is, and that it is based on our sovereign equality and equal international status.”

This, he said, was an inherent right emanating from history as well as international agreements, specifically the 1960 Treaties enshrining the existence of two separate Peoples and co-founders of the Republic of Cyprus.
“Therefore, we want the international community to see that the injustices are still being meted out to the Turkish Cypriots – starting [in 1963] with the transformation of the ‘Republic of Cyprus’ into a Greek Cypriot administration after we were ousted from the State and our rights denied – are a major violation of human rights and that practices such as embargoes, isolation and restrictions that should not exist in this day and age are still applied to the Turkish Cypriot People.”

Anastasiades’s Confidence-Building Measures “are null and void”
President Tatar said Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades had revealed his vision for Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) during the informal Cyprus meeting in Geneva, and had recently brought the issue back to the agenda by sending a letter to him.
Commenting on the Greek Cypriot side’s proposals, he said: “To give the supervision of Ercan [Airport] to the UN so that there can be direct flights; to hand control of Gazimağusa port to the European Union [EU] and Maraş to the UN in return for direct trade . . . at the same time, [requiring] the Republic of Türkiye to open her ports to them and upon the handing over of Ercan to the UN, there is an expectation to take control of the one Flight Information Region (FIR) for the airport, to use a single Flight Information Region (FIR) and turn  the airspace situation against us. 

“We have explained before that this is unacceptable, but [Anastasiades] made the same suggestions in the letter he sent me recently, and unfortunately he is constantly bringing them up. It is not possible for us to accept them, because the intention behind them is to extend the authority of the ‘Republic of Cyprus’ and to violate the sovereignty of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus [TRNC] . . . These proposals are null and void.”

“We will present our cooperation proposals to the other side in the near future”
“What is important for us is to put forward suggestions that will benefit both Peoples, through the cooperation of both parties,” the President added. “The Turkish side constantly brings these issues to the table at meetings held under the auspices of the UN. We consult over all of these processes with our Motherland and guarantor country, the Republic of Türkiye, and have discussed various details during today’s meetings too. The Turkish Cypriot side will soon be presenting its own proposals enshrining mutual cooperation that will be beneficial to both sides.”

“Cooperation with the TRNC is important for Türkiye in maintaining the balance in the eastern Mediterranean”
Current events in the eastern Mediterranean and around the world, especially in Ukraine, all point to a new equilibrium being formed, said the President, adding: “It is extremely important and valuable for Republic of Türkiye, as a strong country observing these developments, to cooperate with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in order to maintain the balance in the eastern Mediterranean. It is with this understanding that we are happy to cooperate with Türkiye ceaselessly and intimately. In the TRNC we observe with great discomfort Greek moves in relation to the Aegean islands. We condemn these attempts, in violation of international treaties and conventions, and are determined to continue our struggle to prevent similar situations in Cyprus.”

Mr Çavuşoğlu: “The observer status of the TRNC in the Organisation of Turkic States will be evaluated at the end-of-year summit”
Mr Çavuşoğlu thanked President Tatar for his invitation and hospitality and expressed his great pleasure to be in the TRNC.
He described as “productive” a meeting that morning with TRNC Foreign Minister Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu, at which he said relations between the Republic of Türkiye and the TRNC had been evaluated. Mr Çavuşoğlu said they had also considered additional steps they could take to defend the rights of the TRNC and the Turkish Cypriot People on the international stage, and efforts they would make to increase the TRNC’s visibility in the international arena.
Pointing out that the TRNC had applied for observer status at the Organisation of Turkic States, Mr Çavuşoğlu said work on this issue was continuing and a decision would be taken at a summit to be held in Uzbekistan at the end of the year.

“Sovereign equality and equal status of the Turkish Cypriot People must be registered”
Reflecting on his meeting with President Tatar and his delegation, Mr Çavuşoğlu said: “We have a joint vision for the solution of the Cyprus issue. It is clear that what is needed for anew formal negotiating process to start on the island and be successful is for the sovereign equality and equal status of the Turkish Cypriot People to be registered.”
“The Turkish Cypriot People have always had these inherent rights and did not acquire them through negotiations,” added Mr Çavuşoğlu, underlining that Turkish Cypriots had these rights from the outset which were reaffirmed in 1960 but later usurped.

“Negotiation takes place between equals, or it has no meaning”
Mr Çavuşoğlu continued: “These rights cannot be denied. To deny them is to deny the identity and essence of the Turkish Cypriot People. We cannot allow this.
“Negotiation happens between equals, otherwise it makes no sense and will yield no results. We have already experienced this, time after time, for 54 years – and are very clear about who rejects equality – and as we have emphasised already, we do not have another 50 years to lose.”

“If there is to be negotiation from now on, it will be between two States, not two communities”
Referring to the two States proposal put forward by President Tatar in Geneva last year, Mr Çavuşoğlu declared that Türkiye’s backing “is as strong and full today as it was then” and that Ankara would continue to support the President’s vision on every platform, especially at the UN.
He stated: “Firstly, the status of the two Sides should be equalised outside the negotiating chamber. Then they will decide for themselves what kind of cooperation model to implement on the island. This is not a vision for a negotiating position; it is the sole solution dictated by the facts and historical experiences on the ground. We remain determined on this issue because this is the will shown by the Turkish Cypriot People.”
He emphasised that the EU was the mouthpiece of the Greek Cypriot administration and so had no right to dictate any solution model contrary to the will of the Turkish Cypriot People and commented: “The Greek Cypriot side is trying to make people forget this and to divert attention. We are aware of this, and I stress once more that we will not allow it.”

“This is a reflex reaction to his discomfort over the Maraş opening”
Mr Çavuşoğlu said the Greek Cypriot side was “trying to sell outdated confidence-building measures” in the EU and the wider international community as if they were new suggestions and commented: “If there was a new idea in it, we would always be willing to discuss it . . . But these are the suggestions that Mr Anastasiades aired in Geneva, having extracted them from old notebooks as he had not managed to come up with any new ideas, and they were made mainly to dilute the negotiation process. It is clear they are a reflex reaction in his discomfort over the opening of Maraş.”

“The Turkish Cypriot side will also offer cooperation proposals in the coming days”
Confirming that the Turkish Cypriots would also be putting forward proposals soon for greater cooperation between the TRNC and the Greek Cypriot side, Mr Çavuşoğlu said: “They are suggestions that concern not only the island of Cyprus but essentially the whole region; are important for the stability and development of the region and will contribute to finding a solution to [its] problems.
“If the Greek Cypriot side really wants to cooperate, it will consider them positively, sit down and talk and evaluate them with the Turkish Cypriot side. If they have no such intention, the Turkish Cypriot side will continue on its way.”
Türkiye is determined to defend its rights in the eastern Mediterranean, as well as those of the TRNC and the Turkish Cypriot People, he added, but is genuinely open to cooperation within the framework of international law “as long as the Greek Cypriots and Greece are sincere”.

“We are in favour of cooperation on the hydrocarbons issue”
Mr Çavuşoğlu said an offer already made by the TRNC on the equitable sharing of the region’s hydrocarbons resources remains on the table and “we are in favour of cooperation”.
He said Türkiye defends this offer on every platform, particularly at the EU and the UN, and commented: “If the Greek Cypriot side wants to achieve cooperation, they should not say ‘No’ to it; they should say ‘Yes’.”

“Maraş is TRNC territory”
Mr Çavuşoğlu also underlined that the Greek Cypriot side was set on getting Maraş back, and said:
“Maraş is TRNC territory and the steps taken [towards its] opening do not violate international law . . . They are steps taken for the good of both Peoples on the island [and] will be even more beneficial in future, [including] for the Greek Cypriots. We are in full support of the steps taken so far over Maraş and those envisaged from now on.”

“The Greek Cypriot side should not make pointless efforts”
Mr Çavuşoğlu called on the Greek Cypriot side not to “make pointless efforts” and urged: “They should not occupy the agenda of the UN and EU with unnecessary propaganda. There are cooperation opportunities ahead of us. Let’s take advantage of [them].”
Citing an example, he expressed “disappointment” over “ridiculous” Greek Cypriot claims that the placing of sunbeds on the beach at Maraş, and similar small measures, posed a threat to international security. “Let them come out with real arguments,” he commented.

After their opening statements, President Tatar and Mr Çavuşoğlu answered journalists’ questions.
Asked about the Greek Cypriot side’s attempt to “direct the international community” with its statements about using confidence-building measures as a means to initiate talks, Mr Tatar said: “It is not possible for us to accept any proposal that will harm or debase TRNC sovereignty. It is null and void for us and in my opinion, the suggestion made is outrageous.”
He said the “game” being played now is to dilute the authority and sovereignty of the TRNC and to make Turkish Cypriots a minority in time through the thesis of federation, but “we do not subscribe to such a thesis any more”.
Mr Çavuşoğlu pointed out that the Greek Cypriot administration, which is insistent on federation, had rejected all federal proposals for 54 years and the line it was pursuing now arose out of their discomfort over the opening of Maraş. Greek Cypriots also want to use their properties in Maraş, as is their natural right, and this is why Türkiye supports the TRNC’s initiative, so that both Sides could benefit from it.

Mr Çavuşoğlu: “Their aim is to bypass the TRNC and talk to us directly, but we will not allow this”
Mr Çavuşoğlu said some international organisations and country representatives had come to Türkiye to evaluate the “new” Greek Cypriot suggestions, but Ankara had demonstrated that the proposals had been put forward in the past. These moves were an attempt to meet with Türkiye directly, bypassing the TRNC, and his nation would not allow this.
He dismissed as “unimportant” recent statements that could “inflame tensions” and claims that Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was to visit the Greek Cypriot side to evaluate the strategy against the Turkish Cypriot side, commenting that many meetings and approaches had taken place in the past from which Türkiye was excluded, and all were invalid.
“We are not pro-tension, we are in favour of cooperation; of fair sharing in the eastern Mediterranean,” said Mr Çavuşoğlu. Criticising the Greek Cypriot side’s actions, he said that instead of crying “Türkiye will attack us”, it should take advantage of the power and opportunities offered by his nation, which was open to cooperation for the resolution of problems. He added that the purpose of Turkish visits to TRNC was not to provoke anyone but to make their own investigations – efforts which were important for the future of the island.

Tatar: “Our hope is to realise the opening of Maraş step by step in line with international law”
Asked what the next step in Maraş would be, President Tatar underlined that Maraş lay within the jurisdiction of the TRNC, and said the aim has always been to open the fenced part of Maraş step by step, in accordance with international law.
Pointing to the district as an “extraordinary destination” visited by more than 500,000 people in the short time since Maraş was opened in October 2020, the President said the Turkish side had also done everything necessary for former Greek Cypriot inhabitants to be able to seek an effective domestic legal remedy through the European Court of Human Rights sanctioned Immovable Property Commission. He said despite the Greek Cypriot administration’s coercion, some 459 Greek Cypriot applications had been received – which he believes will increase.

Source: Presidency of the Turkish Republick of Northern Cyprus

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