By Muhammet Ikbal Arslan
LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (AA) – Foreign Minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Tahsin Ertugruloglu has reiterated the two-state solution for the long-divided island ahead of a meeting with the UN chief.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency about the Cyprus issue, Ertugruloglu noted that the Turkish side has demonstrated its position at the informal five-party meeting under the auspices of the UN, held in Geneva, Switzerland from April 27-29.
After this meeting failed to find a common ground, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced that he will arrange a new informal meeting in two to three months.
Ertugruloglu also said that the TRNC delegation will have a meeting with Guterres in New York. The UN Secretary-General will also meet the Greek Cypriot side. He added that the realization of the five-plus-UN format is not clear yet and he does not see it as very likely.
Pointing out there has been no new development that will create a common ground between the Turkish and Greek parties after the Geneva conference, Ertugruloglu said: “We will not step back from the position we put forward in Geneva.”
“Our equal sovereignty and equal international status are indispensable for our policy,” he added.
The Turkish Cypriot politician said that as long as the world accepts the Greek Cypriot part as the “Republic of Cyprus”, the Greeks will not give up on the claim that they are the “Republic of Cyprus”.
“You have to accept that there are two different peoples, democracies, states, and sovereignties on the island,” he said.
According to Ertugruloglu, unless the reality of one island and two states is accepted, “there is no point in pursuing reconciliation formulas on Cyprus, it will not come true”.
- UN approach not helpful
Reminding that the UN is continuing its policy that there is only one legal state on the island, and the Turkish Cypriots are a community of that state, TRNC foreign minister said with this one cannot expect any development on Cyprus.
On new possible talks, Ertugruloglu said: “Official negotiations begin only if we are to negotiate as two separate states.”
“I would like to say that we do not approve the UN Secretary General's approach of delaying the second 5+UN meeting and leaving us in a vacuum to make the statement that there is ‘no common ground’,” he added.
Noting that the Turkish Cypriots will not wait to see when the Secretary-General will call for the second 5+UN meeting, he said: “The Secretary-General has no right to leave us in this vacuum.”
“He (Guterres) knows very well that there is no common ground on the Cyprus issue. This fact needs to be declared, and what kind of a new Cyprus process will emerge as a result of this has to be decided. If we are going to sit down in negotiations as two states, we are on,” he added.
- Decades-long dispute
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece's annexation led to Turkey's military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the TRNC was founded in 1983.
It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and the UK.
The Greek Cypriot administration entered the EU in 2004, the same year Greek Cypriots thwarted the UN's Annan plan to end the longstanding dispute.
An UN-led unofficial Cyprus conference was held in Geneva this April to seek common ground to negotiate a lasting solution to the decades-old conflict.
Guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and the UK also attended the meeting.