If negotiations ever take place between Turkish and Greek Cypriots, they will take place between two sovereign states rather than between two communities, said Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, while criticizing the Greek Cypriot administration for trying to “dilute “negotiations on the Cyprus issue by repackaging and selling the issues they put on the agenda as “steps or confidence-building measures”.
Çavuşoğlu, along with Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal and Interior Minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Ziya Öztürkler, met Turkish Cypriots on Sunday in the town of Lapta, in the city coast of Girne. The next day, the top Turkish diplomat met with his TRNC counterpart Tahsin Ertuğruloğlu and President Ersin Tatar.
In a joint press conference with Tatar, he stressed that the TRNC will not agree to negotiations unless it is treated as a sovereign state.
He also noted that the Greek Cypriot administration aims to retake the once closed city of Varosha (Maraş) from the TRNC, as it criticized Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis for his anti-Turkey remarks to the United States.
“We don’t expect the Greek prime minister to praise us in the US Congress, but as two NATO allies, it’s a matter of solidarity within the framework of the bloc’s security concerns,” he said. he said, adding that it was unacceptable for Mitsotakis to conduct lobbying activities regarding the F-16s.
During his visit to Washington last month, Mitsotakis warned a joint session of Congress against backing the Biden administration’s proposed military sales to Turkey, saying such a move could create further instability in the region. .
Meanwhile, Çavuşoğlu said Turkish Cypriots are “precious” to Turkey and that it has never left them and the TRNC alone and never will.
Stressing that he had fruitful meetings with representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) within the framework of their visit to the TRNC, Çavuşoğlu added that he will meet his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Ertuğruloğlu, the chairman of the Tatar TRNC and the negotiating committee to assess the latest developments in Cyprus. .
“Before Crans Montana, we said ‘we are negotiating for the federation for the last time. After that, there is sovereign equality, not political equality. So, the two-state solution,” Çavuşoğlu stressed.
The initiative in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, in July 2017 under the auspices of the guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom ended in failure.
“Two states that will live side by side can cooperate in any way. It is quite natural. We are working for everyone to accept the sovereignty of Turkish Cypriots,” he added.
Noting that Turkey proposed the 5+1 talks on Cyprus held in Geneva last year, Çavuşoğlu said that they also clearly expressed their position on a two-state solution during those talks.
During his meeting with Ertuğruloğlu, Çavuşoğlu said that Turkey is trying to find solutions to the ongoing global crises, including the war in Ukraine and the food crisis, through diplomatic initiatives. He went on to say that despite the busy schedule, Ankara still prioritizes the TRNC and Turkish Cypriots.
Noting that Turkey has a clear position regarding the negotiations, Çavuşoğlu said he underlined the position of Ankara and the TRNC during his meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
“It is time for us to resume negotiation talks between two sovereign and equal states,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that Turkey is working to make the voice of Turkish Cyprus heard on international platforms.
The senior Turkish diplomat also said that the Greek Cypriots and Greece had spread propaganda claiming that the Cyprus issue started in 1974, contrary to the fact that it started in 1955 and developed during the 60s and 70s. .
In the early 1960s, ethnic attacks forced Turkish Cypriots to retreat to enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at the annexation of the island by Greece led to the military intervention of Turkey as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was founded in 1983.
The island has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed initiative in 2017 in Switzerland.
The Greek Cypriot administration joined the European Union in 2004, the same year Greek Cypriots thwarted the UN’s Annan plan to end the decades-long conflict that had envisioned a reunified Cyprus joining the EU.
The status of the island remains up in the air, despite a series of negotiations over the years.
While Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration support a federation on Cyprus, Turkey and the TRNC insist on a two-state solution reflecting the realities of the island.
The island of Cyprus is mired in a decades-long struggle between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to reach a comprehensive settlement. Five decades of talks on Cyprus have led nowhere.