The president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said Sunday that the Greek Cypriot side's one-sided steps cannot be accepted.
"The Greek Cypriot side takes steps and signs agreements on its own. They claim that it is unnecessary to ask the Turkish Cypriots. We cannot accept this," Ersin Tatar said in an interview with Greece’s Kathimerini newspaper.
Underlining that Turkish Cypriots are as sovereign as the Greeks on the island, Tatar said that neither side can spread its sovereignty to the other side as both peoples have their own free self-government.
"We will never accept the thesis of a federation that will go to a unitary structure," he added.
Touching on an unofficial meeting on Cyprus that will be held from April 27-29 in Geneva, Switzerland, Tatar noted that the European Union’s presence at the meeting is not right since both Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration are members of the bloc.
"Both Greece and the Greek Cypriot side are in the EU. Therefore, the EU is under their domination and management. Consequently, it is not possible for them [the EU] to be objective and impartial at the table in Geneva,” he said.
- 'Essence of Cyprus issue is sovereignty sharing’
Tatar underscored that the Greek Cypriots and Greece directly affect the decision-making mechanisms of the EU.
"The essence of the Cyprus issue is sovereignty sharing. Nobody can impose sovereignty on anyone. The EU cannot fully understand us on that point," he added.
Tatar said they can meet bilaterally outside of the meeting with the EU, and in this context, they see no harm in establishing a dialogue with them.
Underlining that he sees the Cyprus issue in a common context with Turkey, he noted that Turkey always stands with the Turkish Cypriots in difficult situations.
"Turkey is the guarantor country…Cyprus' position is also very important for the maintenance of the security of Turkey," he added.
Tatar said the presence of Turkish soldiers on the island is not for an offensive but for defense.
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long struggle between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN 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 UN settlement plan in a referendum that year which had envisaged a reunited Cyprus joining the European Union.
By Tevfik Durul in Athens