President Ersin Tatar on Thursday said that the Turkish Cypriot people will be reduced to a minority within a unitary state, losing much in the process.
“We will never accept such a thing as a people who have established their own state,” he said in an interview with the TAK news agency.
Pointing out that the Turkish Cypriot side desired a two-state solution based on sovereign equality and cooperation with the Greek Cypriots, Tatar said, “The international community may perceive this differently but this is our position. We are supported by Turkey.”
Tatar, reminded that all past processes to reach a federal settlement in Cyprus had failed due to the Greek Cypriot side’s rejection of all plans and proposals.
He added that the collapse of the process in Crans Montana was the latest example of this.
Tatar also said that the Turkish Cypriot people desired the continuation of Turkey’s effective and active guarantees, expressing doubt that the EU’s security mechanisms would have been successful in addressing the security needs of Turkish Cypriots had the Annan Plan been accepted by the Greek Cypriots.
“Much has changed since the 2004 Annan Plan, most importantly, the status of the island in the Mediterranean. Time has been working in our favour,” he said.
The president added that the support of Turkey which Turkish Cypriots enjoyed was a game changer in the region.
“Turkey with its population of 85 million is the most powerful country in the region. It’s Blue Homeland Policy, its determination to protect its rights over its continental shelf and exclusive economic zone has strengthened the Turkish Cypriot side’s hand,” he said.
Tatar argued that the TRNC’s importance in the region has grown.
Drawing attention to the dangers of a federal settlement, Tatar warned that such a settlement would eliminate all previous legislation adopted and passed by the TRNC, weakening the Turkish Cypriot people.
He said that the dominant view within Greek Cypriot society is that the new partnership will be somewhat a continuation of the Cyprus Republic.
“Turkish Cypriots would be reduced to a minority in such a situation. This is something we cannot accept,” he said, adding that the Turkish Cypriot people wanted to determine their own future by exercising their right to self-determination.
Tatar also drew attention to the unjust embargoes and isolations imposed on the Turkish Cypriot people, stating that this was a gross violation of human rights.
“We are not asking for much. Because there are already two separate states in Cyprus. All we want is for this to continue. But Turkish Cypriots should no longer be subject to such injustices,” he said.
President Tatar also said that none of the steps taken on Maraş were in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
“Human rights come before everything else. If we have been unable to reach a solution or sign an agreement for the past 46 years then there is no point in keeping Maraş closed for another 46 years,” he said.
Tatar pointed out that a large section of Maraş was already open and that the newly opened section was only a 5km long seafront where there were mainly hotels and businesses.
He explained that the Vakıflar Administration had serious claims to property in the area which it says can be backed with documents.
“The Vakıflar will have to apply to the Immovable Property Commission with its documents,” he said
The president also pointed out that there were currently 300 applications filed by Greek Cypriots pending at the IPC, adding that there were also British and US nationals who had property in the area.
“Maraş has been opened for the good and service of humanity. This is not subject to debate. We have not done anything which is in violation of international law,” he said.
Tatar repeated the view that Maraş was located within the borders of the TRNC and that the town was within its area of sovereignty and jurisdiction.
He said that former residents will either be allowed to return to or sell their properties.
“The property claims will be evaluated and assessed. Everyone’s grievances will be addressed. Title deeds will be distinguished. All these steps are being taken in the name of human rights. There is not contradiction politically either,” Tatar said.
While adding that it would be unreasonable to hand over the authority of Maraş to others after all these years, President Tatar said that the area was important for the security and defence of the TRNC.
Explaining that the steps taken were part of a proactive policy, Tatar said that the Maraş move, with the changes it has brought to the political climate and the messages it has given to the world has served to reinforce the political arguments of the Turkish Cypriot side.
Also touching upon the issue of bringing electricity and natural gas to the TRNC from Turkey, President Tatar pointed out that energy costs in the country were high and that such a project would significantly reduce the TRNC’s energy costs.