Seeking a fresher, fairer approach to the Cyprus issue, the Turkish Cypriot president has proposed establishing a cooperative relationship between the two states on the island, with both enjoying equal international status.
According to a document leaked to the media on April 28, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Ersin Tatar made his six-point proposal to U.N. Secretary-General Guterres for a sustainable settlement to the decades-long Cyprus dispute.
Tatar made the proposal during this week’s three-day informal 5+1 gathering in Geneva hosted by Guterres, with the participation of the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders, and the foreign ministers of the island’s three guarantor countries – Turkey, Greece, and the U.K.
“The Turkish Cypriot proposal is aimed at establishing a cooperative relationship between the two States on the island based on their inherent sovereign equality and equal international status,” says the proposal.
It underlines that the Turkish Cypriot side did not come to this point overnight, “but after decades of long arduous negotiations that have ended in failure, having definitively exhausted all prospects for a bi-communal and bi-zonal federal settlement.”
Tatar’s document calls for “results-oriented, time-framed” negotiations for a lasting solution after the equal status and sovereign equality of the two states on the island is secured.
U.N.-led negotiations will focus on the future relationship between the two states, as well as property, security, and border adjustment, and relations with the EU, according to the document.
On this new basis, and under the auspices of the U.N. secretary-general, “a freely reached and mutually acceptable cooperative agreement” will be established, it says.
Any agreement reached as a result of these negotiations will face a vote in separate simultaneous referenda in the two states on the island, according to the proposal.
The three-day meeting opened on Tuesday with Guterres aiming to seek “common ground” to resume formal negotiations to find a lasting solution to the decades-old dispute.
‘Nothing can come from old view of decades-old issue’
“We expressed our own views clearly. Of course, there is no change in our position and there won’t be,” Tatar told reporters in Geneva after his 40-minute presentation on the issue.
“We explained our position (on a two-state solution) in the given timeframe in detail and with justification,” he said.
“I said many things have changed, the context and conditions have changed,” said Tatar, recounting the island’s violent history in the 1960s, the 2004 Annan plan – which resulted in the Greek Cypriot administration being admitted to the EU after rejecting the U.N. plan – and the failure of the Crans-Montana talks in 2017.
Tatar said he told of the “injustice inflicted on Turkish Cypriots by the U.N., the EU and the international community. When I checked the room, I saw that everyone knew how right we were. I think everyone knows that no results can come from this old understanding.”
Tatar also thanked Turkey for completely supporting the Turkish Cypriots’ position.
Dismissing Greek media reports claiming that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reacted coolly to the need for a two-state solution, Tatar said: “They will say whatever they want. The secretary-general knew what we were going to say when he invited us.”
‘Only TRNC has creative ideas beyond failed status quo’
In a statement, the TRNC Presidency said the proposal put together the vision of President Tatar and the reasons behind it, as well as the basic principles and regulations that will govern such a solution.
“As far as we see, the Turkish Cypriot side is the only party that offers creative ideas that go beyond the status quo and failed federation negotiations,” said Ergun Olgun, the TRNC president’s special representative.
Olgun said Tatar’s vision is to establish a new relationship between the two states on the island based on sovereign equality and equal international status.
Speaking to Turkish Cypriot media, Prime Minister Ersan Sener said the six-point proposal sets the Turkish side’s basic parameters to resume talks.
“Signing an agreement in which we do not have sovereignty is impossible,” said Sener, adding that Turkish side wants the acceptance of sovereign equality and a two-state solution.
Greek Cypriot response expected
Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades was expected at an evening meeting to submit to Guterres a response to Tatar’s proposition.
The informal talks, which started on Tuesday and are due to end Thursday, are meant to break the stalemate on the island and pave the way for future talks.
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long struggle between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the U.N. to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
The island has been divided since 1964, when ethnic attacks forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aiming at Greece’s annexation led to Turkey’s military intervention as a guarantor power. The TRNC was founded in 1983.
The Greek Cypriot administration, backed by Greece, became a member of the EU in 2004, although most Greek Cypriots rejected a U.N. settlement plan in a referendum that year, which had envisaged a reunited Cyprus joining the EU.
Hurriyet Daily News