President Ersin Tatar and the Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay met on Wednesday, first for a face-to-face meeting before chairing a meeting between the delegations of the two countries.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay, President Ersin Tatar said that he has been chairing the crisis desk set up to deal with the ongoing forest fire in Mersinlik and thanked all those who have been working to put out the fire.
He expressed the hope that the current difficulties being experienced in the economy due to the pandemic and war in Ukraine will be overcome with the arrival of summer and the start of the tourism season.
Also touching upon the Cyprus Issue, Tatar said that he had responded to the letter sent to him by the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades, adding that it was out of the question to return Maraş or handover the control of Ercan Airport to Greek Cypriot authorities which was proposed as part of the so-called confidence-building measures (CBMs).
“I conveyed to Mr Anastasiades that this process may only proceed on the basis of sovereign equality. We have our own proposals on cooperation in the field of hydrocarbons, energy and water all of which would be for the benefit of both sides and regional stability. We will be sharing these in the coming days,” he said.
Touching upon the Maraş initiative, Tatar reminded that the Turkish Cypriot side was evaluating the applications made to the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) which was recognized by international law.
“I would like to underline that Maraş is located within the borders of the TRNC and that we shall be further upgrading the town’s infrastructure to allow its beaches, its public spaces and parks to offer more services to the public,” he added.
Pointing out that the Cyprus Problem, in essence, was an issue concerning sovereignty, the president thanked Türkiye for the support it gave to the Turkish Cypriot people.
He said that Greece was violating international law in the Aegean and had a tendency of doing the same in Cyprus.
For his part, Türkiye’s Vice President Fuat Oktay said Türkiye’s Agriculture and Forestry Ministry had sent two fire fighting planes to help douse the blaze.
Teams from various departments, including the Cyprus Turkish Peace Forces, are working dedicatedly to extinguish the fire, he said.
After being briefed by TRNC officials, Oktay called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to give him an update on the situation.
“Four fire fighting aircraft and four helicopters are engaged in aerial operations. Two of the aircraft came from Türkiye and one of the helicopters is also ours. The rest are from the Greek Cypriot administration,” he said.
He said some 300 personnel are battling the blaze, adding that the fire has so far damaged nearly 4,500 acres of land.
On the Cyprus Issue, Oktay said that a solution in Cyprus was only possible on the basis of sovereign equality and equal international status.
He accused the Greek Cypriot administration of constantly sabotaging the sincere initiatives of the Turkish Cypriot side regarding a settlement through its maximalist demands.
“The Greek Cypriot side is trying to ignore our position and policy, trying to conceal the truth. They’re telling us to give them our land so that they might allow us to open our airport to international flights. We will not allow such opportunist and cunning plans to go ahead,” Oktay said.
The Turkish Vice President also took a swipe at the European Union, accusing the bloc of seeing the Cyprus Issue through the eyes of the Greek Cypriot side.
He said that it was important for the EU to adopt its own independent policies on the Cyprus Issue.
Also touching upon the TRNC economy, Oktay said that their goal was to strengthen the TRNC’s economy.