President Ersin Tatar said that it was necessary to focus on a two-state solution in Cyprus based on sovereign equality and collaboration with the Greek Cypriot side.
Tatar, in an interview with TRT World, reminded that there are two states and two peoples in Cyprus.
The TRNC president reminded said that the decision to reopen the fenced-off town of Maraş was the most realistic and logical move in terms of human rights.
He added that all steps to be taken on Maraş will be in accordance with international law and UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.
Pointing out that the Greek Cypriot side for the past 46 years had rejected all proposals for the return of Maraş in exchange for direct flights to the TRNC as part of confidence-building measures; Tatar said that there was no point in keeping the fenced-off city closed any longer.
Tatar added that Maraş was located within the TRNC’s borders.
“Our goal is to allow former residents to return to the properties. The move has received support from Greek Cypriots. We are calling on the Greek Cypriot property owners to return to Maraş and to apply to the Immovable Property Commission (IPC). They can reopen their businesses if they wish but this will be done under the administration of the TRNC,” he said.
In response to a question on the negotiations, President Ersin Tatar said that there were differences in views between the two sides.
He added that the Greek Cypriot side did not see Turkish Cypriots as equals and did not recognize the political equality of the Turkish Cypriot people.
“As you know political equality is a prerequisite for a lasting and sustainable solution in Cyprus, Tatar noted.
He also pointed out that the Greek Cypriots had rejected all solution plans and processes to date, including the Annan Plan, and more recently in Crans Montana in 2017.
Tatar said that talks held in Crans Montana were acknowledged by all participating sides that this was the last attempt to reach a federal solution in Cyprus.
“Unfortunately an important opportunity was missed,” he added.
Regarding a two-state solution, President Tatar said that this was the most viable and realistic solution that could be reached in Cyprus.
He said that he had been empowered by the Turkish Cypriot people to negotiate such a solution based on sovereign equality.
“We can have two states side by side which cooperate on a number of areas such as health,” said Tatar, reminding that he had recently proposed to the Greek Cypriot side for the transfer of a hundred Covid-19 patients in the south to be treated at the newly completely pandemic hospital in the TRNC.
“What I’m saying is very clear. If you are realistic and sincere there is no point in losing anymore time. Wasting time is wasting peoples’ hopes,” the TRNC president said.
Tatar also warned that what the Greek Cypriot side truly understood and desired from a federal solution was to transform in function the new partnership into a unitary state where Turkish Cypriots would become a minority dominated by Greek Cypriots.
He argued that a federal settlement would also mean that the TRNC and the accomplishments of the Turkish Cypriots over the past 46 years would be dissolved, threatening the very existence of the Turkish Cypriot people.
Tatar also said that the Greek Cypriots would use their EU membership to an advantage against Turkish Cypriots.
He argued that the freedoms within the EU would also engulf the Turkish Cypriot people as Greek Cypriots or Greeks would be able to settle, purchase property and invest in what is now the TRNC.
This, he added, was unacceptable, stating that Turkish Cypriots would be exposed to the interests of larger European states.
In response to another question on Maraş, Tatar said the property issue within the fenced-off town will be held through the Immovable Property Commission (IPC).
He reminded that the Vakıflar Foundation also possessed properties within Maraş and that the administration also would need to apply to the IPC.
“But let me be clear. We shall be acting in accordance with international law and UN resolutions. It is out of the question for the properties in Maraş to be distributed to others for political or financial gains,” he said.
Tatar reminded that the IPC was recognized by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as an effective domestic legal remedy and that the ruling of the commission will be respected no matter what the outcome.
Regarding his meeting with the Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades, President Tatar said that he and Mr Anastasiades had shared their views on the Cyprus Problem.
Tatar added that Turkish Cypriots had the right to determine their own future and to administer themselves under the roof of their own state.
“We shall never accept becoming a minority,” he said, adding that he had conveyed to Anastasiades that a two-state solution was not that difficult to achieve as there were already two separate states in Cyprus.
On the informal five-party conference, Tatar expressed the view that the conference, initially proposed by the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, will be useful in determining the way forward on the Cyprus Issue and where each side stands.
Asked about a possible visit to Azerbaijan in the coming days, Tatar said that he will step up his efforts to promote the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus abroad.
He pointed out that strong relations existed between the two countries but he hoped that this relationship will be further strengthened.
On the issue of hydrocarbons, Tatar drew attention to the geographical proximity of both Turkey and the TRNC to the Eastern Mediterranean.
He said they will continue to protect their rights in the region by acting jointly with Turkey.