Commemorating Peace and Freedom Day: President Ersin Tatar addresses the main parade in Lefkoşa saying: “No formal negotiations until our sovereign equality and equal international status is reaffirmed”
“The period of conducting negotiations for the sake of negotiations, whilst attempting to crush Turkish Cypriots under isolation that is tantamount to persecution, has come to pass”
President Ersin Tatar led celebrations marking the 49th anniversary of the Cyprus Peace Operation, undertaken by Türkiye on July 20, 1974, which brought real peace to the island and freedom to the Turkish Cypriot People, who endured years of island-wide attacks by Greek-Greek Cypriot forces as part of their aspiration to unite Cyprus with Greece.
The parade, which was held at the Dr. Fazıl Küçük Boulevard in Lefkoşa following the inauguration of the new terminal building and runway of Ercan Airport, was also attended by President of the Republic of Türkiye, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other high level officials from the Republic of Türkiye and the TRNC, and members of the public.
Stating that Peace and Freedom Day celebrations were this year being celebrated in a sombre manner in the aftermath of the devastating earthquakes that occurred in Türkiye on February 6, 2023, President Tatar paid respect to the Gazimağusa Türk Maarif College team of angels, teachers and citizens, and to the tens of thousands who lost their lives in the disaster.
President Tatar said: “Today, we are not celebrating war, we are celebrating the anniversary of the arrival of peace and freedom, and being able to live as dignified People in our own State, following endurance of years of oppression and acts of genocide committed against our People.”
Explaining that the Turkish Cypriot People were the co-founders of the partnership Republic of Cyprus that was established in 1960 on the basis of equality, who were expulsed from the state apparatus by force of arms in 1963 by the Greek-Greek Cypriot duo and EOKA terrorist group, President Tatar stated that the once partnership republic was then transformed into an exclusively Greek Cypriot state, and for the next 11 years, there were island-wide attacks against Turkish Cypriots, who had to abandon 103 of their villages and forced to live in 3% of the island’s territory in dire conditions. He said the attacks culminated with the coup d’état by the Greek junta on July 15, 1974, and the declaration of the ‘Hellenic Republic of Cyprus’, which was the last straw. He said following Britain’s refusal to take part in a joint intervention, the Republic of Türkiye, undertook the Cyprus Peace Operation in accordance with her obligations as a Guarantor power on July 20, 1974.
“The Turkish Peace Operation was undertaken as a consequence of the actions of the Greek-Greek Cypriot duo, it was not preplanned and did not happen out of the blue,” President Tatar said, adding: “The courageous Turkish Cypriot People’s only desire has always been to live in peace and freedom, and to coexist as sovereign equals”.
Tatar: “Negotiations have to be based on the sovereign equality and equal international status of the Turkish Cypriot People”
President Tatar stated: “We are continuing to state at every platform that we will not sit at the negotiating table without the reaffirmation of the sovereign equality and equal international status of the Turkish Cypriot People. The period of conducting negotiations for the sake of negotiations, whilst attempting to crush Turkish Cypriots under isolation that is tantamount to persecution, has come to pass.”
Stating that “we shall never surrender the sovereignty of the Turkish Cypriot People to the Greek Cypriot Side in order to reach a supposed solution,” President Tatar said that he will “continue to assert that a just, permanent and sustainable settlement in Cyprus can only be reached on the basis of two States”.
President Tatar said: “Our expectation from the UN, EU and other countries, is to encourage the Greek Cypriot Side towards accepting the inherent equal rights of the Turkish Cypriot People, namely the reaffirmation of our sovereign equality and equal international status.”
Pointing out that July 20, 1974 was the most important milestone for peace on the island of Cyprus, President Tatar noted that the “first visit of the President of the Republic of Türkiye, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the TRNC after being re-elected on May 28, followed by this second visit to the country is indeed a “strong message to the world that Turkish Cypriot People are not alone”.
“Turkish Cypriot People cannot exist in these lands without the support of Motherland Türkiye”
Reminding that the Turkish army set foot in Cyprus on the morning of July 20, 1974, as the “sun of freedom was rising from the north coast of Girne with the Peace Operation”, President Tatar said: “Türkiye exercised her right as a guarantor power stemming from international treaties. I wish to respectfully remember our leaders, Dr. Fazıl Küçük and Founding President Rauf Raif Denktaş, who both maintained that the Cyprus issue cannot be solved without Türkiye.”
Expressing his gratitude and respect to all those who have “resolutely defended the national cause and for inserting the right of unilateral intervention into the founding treaties of Cyprus, President Tatar said that “the Turkish Cypriot People cannot exist in these lands without the support of Türkiye”.
President Tatar added: “The hegemonic mentality of the Greek-Greek Cypriot duo; the rejection by the Greek Cypriot Side of the UN Comprehensive Settlement [Annan] Plan in the separately held simultaneous referenda which was accepted by the Turkish Cypriot People in April 2004; the collapse of the process in Crans-Montana in July 2017, all show that negotiations on a federal basis have been exhausted. It has been demonstrated time and time again that a solution on the federal basis just is not possible. The Greek Cypriot Side has always shown that they see negotiations as a tool to perpetuate the unacceptable status quo where they have sabotaged the processes at critical stages, rather than using negotiations as a means to reaching a settlement.”
Stating that there is “complete unity and support” with Motherland Türkiye for a settlement to be based on the sovereign equality and equal international status that was first put forward in Geneva at the 5+UN informal meeting in April 2021, President Tatar said that the goal of the Greek-Greek Cypriot duo is to drag the Turkish Cypriot Side back to federal based negotiations, to deny the inherent rights of the Turkish Cypriot People including their sovereign equality, and to turn them into a minority. He said the “Greek Cypriot Side wants to demolish the guarantee rights of Türkiye through the extreme demand of ‘zero troops, zero guarantees’ and to end the sovereignty rights and State existence of the Turkish Cypriot People. They want to leave us defenceless and to finish us,” President Tatar said.
President Tatar referred to the historic address by President Erdoğan at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in September 2022, where he invited the international community to formally recognise the TRNC and to put an end to the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot People. He said following this call, the TRNC was admitted as an observer member under its constitutional name to the Organisation of Turkic States on November 11, 2022, which opened a new page for the TRNC.
“Turkish Cypriot People are inseparable from the Turkic world and we are ready to form relations in every field with Turkic States,” President Tatar said. “The borders of the Organisation of Turkic States has expanded to the eastern Mediterranean, and the TRNC is the southernmost Turkic State, which is located in an important geostrategic region.”
President Tatar expressed his gratitude to President Erdoğan, saying: “Dear President, you have been our voice at the UN platform, where the rights of Turkish Cypriot People have been trampled upon and their representation obstructed. I wish to express my gratitude to you for your determined position in addressing this great injustice and for the solidarity you have continued to show with the TRNC.”
Stating that he has been putting forward arduous efforts to form a “cooperation mechanism” between the two Sides, President Tatar said: “I conveyed six cooperation proposals to the Greek Cypriot leadership in July 2022, namely on hydrocarbon resources, interconnection system, transition to green energy, freshwater resources, irregular migration and demining of the Island of Cyprus, that will be of benefit to both sides in that it will improve the daily lives of people. However, we have still not received a positive response to our cooperation proposals from the Greek Cypriot Side. We are putting forward a sincere and constructive position. A response to our cooperation proposals is also a test of the sincerity of the Greek Cypriot Side.” President Tatar, referring to the proposal by President Erdoğan to organise an Eastern Mediterranean Conference, said that “this proposal continues to be on the table”.
Defending Blue Homeland
Emphasising that “everything necessary is being done to defend our rights in Blue Homeland together with Motherland Türkiye,” President Tatar said that there is a historical opportunity to make use of the proposal for an Eastern Mediterranean Conference that would include all the interested countries and stakeholders together with the participation of the Turkish Cypriot Side and the Greek Cypriot Side on the basis of their equal status.
Pointing out that the geopolitical situation in the eastern Mediterranean has turned into a major struggle over hydrocarbon resources while there are critical and important developments in the region, President Ersin Tatar added: “The escalation of tensions in the region is due to the attempts by some international actors who are trying to exclude the TRNC and distance Türkiye from the eastern Mediterranean, whilst they establish dominance in the region.” He added that “one other primary reason for the escalation of tensions is due to the negative position taken by the Greek-Greek Cypriot duo, and their continued militarisation. The TRNC and Türkiye will continue to protect their strategic rights and interests, and guard their maritime rights, Blue Homeland and airspace.”
TRNC is the indispensable castle of Türkiye and the Turkic States in the eastern Mediterranean
Emphasising that the TRNC is the “indispensable castle” of Türkiye and the Turkic states in the eastern Mediterranean, President Tatar referred to his telephone call with the UN Secretary-General on June 30, 2023, and said he reiterated to the Secretary-General the reasons why a two State settlement would be a realistic and sustainable settlement and why federal based negotiations have been exhausted.
President Tatar said that the “Century of Türkiye” under the leadership of President Erdoğan would be one of great blessing and prosperity for the Turkish nation and the Turkish Cypriot People, as Türkiye continues to become a major player in the international arena.
Stating that the support of Türkiye to the TRNC across every field was once again demonstrated earlier, the President said that “the new terminal building and runway at Ercan Airport has just been inaugurated. Different economic protocols are being signed and there are more tangible projects in the pipeline in line with the cooperation between Türkiye and the TRNC”.
Turkish Cypriots living abroad
President Tatar also made a call to the Turkish Cypriots living abroad, saying: “Many Turkish Cypriots are living in other countries for numerous reasons, however their hearts are with us, and I sincerely salute them with respect. I know full well the deep love and patriotism that exist in the hearts of Turkish Cypriots abroad for Motherland Türkiye and for their homeland the TRNC. Turkish Cypriots abroad are very important for us. Earlier this month, I saw and felt the deep connection and love of the Turkish Cypriots abroad for their flag at the historical Turkish Cypriot Cultural Festival that was held in London, which was attended by over 25,000 people. Hundreds and thousands of Turkish Cypriots live abroad – particularly in the UK, and tens of thousands of British expats have made the TRNC their home or visit the country as tourists. We will continue to arduously lobby for a start of direct flights to the TRNC. For this reason, having direct flights, particularly from the UK and other countries in this day and age is an issue that needs to be reviewed and addressed. It is high time the UK Government takes a fresh review of this unjust situation. Every person has the right to travel freely without hindrance, and numerous promises had been made by international actors to end the isolation including starting direct flights to the TRNC — none of which has been kept. We will continue to work against this great injustice.”
President Tatar concluded his speech by emphasising the strong bonds that exist between the Republic of Türkiye and the TRNC and expressed his gratitude to President Erdoğan and other high-level officials for visiting the TRNC and participating in the July 20 Peace and Freedom Day celebrations.