By Nazli Yuzbasioglu
All Greek Cypriots are trying to do is leave the current negotiation process hanging, Foreign Minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Tahsin Ertugruloglu has said.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Ertugruloglu said the whole negotiation process was based on “inequality”.
He referred back to the Annan Plan, which was a United Nations proposal to resolve the Cyprus dispute, through restructuring of the divided island as a federation of two states under the name "United Republic of Cyprus".
In 2004, a referendum proposed by then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was held but reunification was rejected by the Greek Cypriot population.
"It does not suit the Greek Cypriot side’s interests to say yes to a proposal such as the Annan Plan. They know that they won’t approve an agreement which puts the Turkish Cypriots on an equal basis with them. They also know that saying no a second time will not benefit them either.
“Therefore, their policy is to avoid going to another referendum, and just leave this process hanging, by suspending it now and then. We should not let this happen. It is clear that the current process is no longer sustainable,” he said.
“Despite attempts to prove otherwise, we are dealing with a process where the Greek Cypriot side is recognized as Republic of Cyprus, whereas the Turkish Cypriot community is being portrayed as an ethnic minority within this Republic, whose political identity and sovereignty are being refused.
“We are not sitting on equal terms,” he said.
He added that the proposal of uniting the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation “would carry the possibility of leaving the future of Turkish Cypriots at the mercy of the Greek Cypriot side” if the sensitivities of the Turkish Cypriot side were ignored.
Ertugruloglu suggested including the guarantor states of Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom in the process, saying meetings should also be held with these countries.
“Turkey’s guarantorship is indispensable to us. It is something which is not even open to discussion,” he said, adding that the telltale sign of guarantorship was Turkey’s right to unilateral intervention.
“We are the equal owners of the Cyprus Island. We are not a nation that will be brought under the yoke of the Greek Cypriots, or left at their mercy. Our only assurance and guarantor in this matter is of course our motherland [Turkey],” he said.
The eastern Mediterranean island was divided into a Turkish Cypriot state in the north and a Greek Cypriot administration in the south after a 1974 military coup on the island was followed by the intervention of Turkey as a guarantor power.
Reunification talks between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the island resumed in May 2015, after having been stalled in October 2014 due to a dispute about gas exploration around the island.
The talks between Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus President Mustafa Akinci and Greek Cypriot administration’s leader Nicos Anastasiades were last suspended in late May.
Anastasiades had canceled a meeting with Akinci after refusing to attend a dinner hosted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, upon being told that the Turkish Cypriot leader had also been invited.
He thus cut short his trip to Istanbul. Anastasiades also canceled a meeting set with Special UN Cyprus Envoy Espen Barth Eide.
The interrupted peace talks resumed on June 8.
*Anadolu Agency Correspondent Hale Turkes contributed to this story from Ankara.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.