Turkish Cypriot leader rules out reunification of divided island

Cyprus updates

The hardline chief of breakaway north Cyprus will press his authorities’s push for a two-state solution on the UN subsequent month, calling for a “actuality verify” after half a century of failed efforts to reunite the divided Mediterranean island.

Northern Cyprus has taken an uncompromising line on attainable reunification since Ersin Tatar was elected president of the Turkish Cypriot enclave final yr with sturdy backing from Turkey.

The 2 sides of the island, segregated alongside ethnic traces for the reason that mid-Sixties, at the moment are too estranged to reunify and future negotiations require recognition of his facet as “equal and sovereign”, Tatar stated in an interview with the Monetary Occasions.

“It’s time for the world to recognise the truth that we’ve two totally different states, [and] any effort to push us right into a blended marriage is doomed to fail,” Tatar stated. “They’re Greeks, they’re Christians. We’re a special race. We communicate Turkish, our faith is Islam, our motherland is Turkey.”

Cyprus has been break up since 1974 when Turkey invaded its north in response to an Athens-inspired coup which aimed to unite the island with Greece.

The decades-old dispute is now enmeshed in a region-wide conflict over rights to hydrocarbons within the jap Mediterranean, with Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Egypt and the EU squaring off towards Turkey and north Cyprus.

Solely Turkey recognises Tatar’s administration, and retains tens of 1000’s of troops on the island. The remainder of the worldwide group sees the Greek Cypriot authorities, which joined the EU in 2004, because the island’s sole authority.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan backs partition nevertheless it failed to realize any traction when Tatar met Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades for UN-backed exploratory talks in Geneva in April.

Tatar will journey to New York in September through the UN Normal Meeting, when he expects to fulfill Anastasiades once more in an try to ascertain sufficient widespread floor to restart formal negotiations for the primary time since UN-brokered talks collapsed in 2017.

“I’m not saying that we are going to shut the door,” Tatar stated. “I’m right here to barter for a good settlement based mostly on two sovereign states.”

Tensions within the jap Mediterranean escalated dramatically final yr when Erdogan despatched a seismic research vessel, accompanied by warships, into waters internationally recognised as belonging to Greece and Cyprus to hunt for pure gasoline, threatening a army confrontation with Turkey’s Nato companion Greece.

Tatar stated he “doesn’t belief” a pledge from Cyprus to share a possible gasoline bonanza with Turkish Cypriots, and vitality offers with Ankara imply Turkey could proceed exploring for gasoline off the Cyprus shoreline. That may threat rekindling the dispute, which led to EU sanctions against Turkey in December.

The few hundred thousand individuals dwelling in northern Cyprus stay deeply remoted underneath a world commerce embargo that enables no direct flights apart from to and from Turkey.

Tatar rejected a proposal he stated Anastasiades floated in April to open north Cyprus’ airport and seaport to worldwide commerce and passengers underneath the management of the EU and the UN, in trade for the return of the ghost city of Varosha. Turkey sealed off the previous luxurious resort in 1974 and left it to decay after the UN Safety Council handed resolutions prohibiting resettlement.

Tatar stated relinquishing management of transportation hubs could be tantamount to “dropping a struggle when foreigners take away your belongings”.

As an alternative, Erdogan defied rebukes from the US and EU late final month by asserting {that a} second part of Varosha could be transformed from army to civilian use, after a sliver of beachfront was opened final yr. Greek Cypriots accused Erdogan of a land seize within the metropolis; Tatar stated Greek Cypriot property house owners had been “greater than welcome” to maneuver again or apply for compensation.

Tatar, a Cambridge university-educated former accountant, defended his efforts to forge shut ties with Erdogan. Critics have urged Turkish interference could have swung final yr’s election, however Tatar dismissed that allegation as unfounded.

Turkish Cypriots have lengthy relied on Turkey for safety, funding and infrastructure funding. Final month, Erdogan promised to construct Tatar a brand new presidential advanced because the “expression of being a state”, calling his workplace “a shanty home belonging to the Brits” as a result of it was constructed within the Thirties when Cyprus was a British protectorate.

“Additional integration with Turkey is just pure as a result of we’ve not had the friendship nor the justice we anticipated from the worldwide group,” Tatar stated. “It is just with Turkish assist that at some point we will probably be recognised as a state.”

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