A two-state solution for Cyprus is "inevitable," the president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said on Monday.
"An agreement based on two states, the sovereign equality of two separate peoples, and their equal international status has become inevitable," Ersin Tatar told Anadolu in New York, where he is attending the 78th session of the UN General Assembly.
Noting that the TRNC has been attending meetings of the UN Secretariat every year, Tatar said, "They've always maintained the propaganda of the Greek Cypriot - Greek duo here, and for 60 years, they haven't been able to find any justice for our outcry."
"Everyone knows that there are two separate peoples in Cyprus," he said.
Tatar underlined that the TRNC, with Türkiye's support, has been telling the world about a new policy for the Eastern Mediterranean island, which has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
Ethnic attacks starting in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece's annexation of the island led to Türkiye'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 Türkiye, Greece, and the UK.
In 2004, the same year that Greek Cypriots thwarted a UN plan to end the longstanding dispute, the Greek Cypriot administration was admitted into the EU, a move that Tatar said was the result of a unilateral decision by the bloc.
He also stressed that Turkish and Greek Cypriots have historically been separate peoples on the island. "There is no 'Cypriot' nation. On Cyprus, you're either Turkish or Greek. This is the way it is, and this is the way remains."
Touching on a European Parliament report about Türkiye that Ankara has called "a collection of unfounded allegations and prejudices," Tatar said it was also "irrelevant to the realities of Cyprus."
He emphasized that any solution on Cyprus that seeks to end Türkiye's status as a guarantor and set up a federative system on the island would be unacceptable.
Turkish Cypriots will not accept "the elimination of their own state," Tatar said, adding that the prevailing issues could only be resolved with a "win-win" approach.
On the matter of energy, he asserted that due to its distance from mainland Europe, the Greek Cypriot administration is outside the interdependence of European countries that must work together to resolve their energy problems.
Everyone would benefit from improved regional stability, he said, adding that "stubbornly" failing to accept the reality of the TRNC's existence amounted to blocking the way to reconciliation.
Tatar expressed his satisfaction with the state of TRNC-Türkiye relations, saying: "I have always looked to the future with hope and it will be like this from now on."
Noting that Türkiye had allocated the 13th floor of the Turkish House, the skyscraper in New York that houses the country's local consulate and the UN representation, to the TRNC, Tatar said Turkish Cypriot officials held meetings there.
"All of these steps contribute to the power of the TRNC," he said.
Turning to recent arms sales by the US and France to the Greek Cypriot administration, Tatar said these could have detrimental effects on the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean.
These relations, he argued, are illegitimate as they are not conducted under the approval of the island's three guarantor countries, Türkiye, Greece, and the UK.
The Turkish Cypriot president said that despite embargoes by other countries, the TRNC has flourished, pointing to big projects ranging from a new wing to its international airport in capital Lefkosa and the ongoing construction of an undersea fresh water pipeline from Türkiye.
"With these successes, the state has now come to a position where it can be a part of the two-state solution in Cyprus, with its institutional structure and all its will. This is important. The two-state solution is really much safer and safer for us. Otherwise, we would face huge risks," he said.
"We should never step back from the two-state solution."
Tatar underlined the sovereignty and independence of the TRNC saying: "The borders drawn by the Cyprus Peace Operation in 1974 are our honor and dignity. We will never and cannot compromise on these borders."
Road project with Pile village
Tatar also said that the TRNC has been pursuing a road construction project between the villages of Pile and Yigitler for 25 years, finally starting to build it in recent weeks so Turkish Cypriot residents in Pile, which is located in the island's buffer zone, could travel to and from the TRNC more easily.
Roads have been built from Pile to the city of Larnaca on the Greek side, while homes and a shopping center were erected in other parts of the buffer zone, but nobody speaks about this, he said, adding that the UN Peacekeeping Force has caused all manner of obstacles to the TRNC's road project.
Tatar said more than 500 Turkish Cypriots live in Pile and that they are determined to carry out this road project with the support of Türkiye.
"This is a road being constructed to address humanitarian needs. We neither have eyes on someone else's land, nor were these efforts carried out for a land grab. It is our greatest hope and wish that this issue will be resolved amicably," he said.
The road expansion is strategically important for residents as it will give them more options to reach Pile, where Turks and Greek Cypriots live together.
Residents of Pile will be able to travel shorter distances and will not have to pass through British bases when crossing to the Turkish side when the 11.6-kilometer (7.2-mile) construction and repair work ends.
The first 7.5 km (4.66 mi) of the road will pass through the village of Yigitler, and the second 4.1 km (2.55 mi) will pass through Pile.
The Greek Cypriot administration and the UN, however, oppose to the project.
Lack of direct UK-TRNC flights
Tatar also said negotiations were ongoing with various countries for direct international flights to the TRNC's Ercan Airport.
Drawing particular attention to direct flights from the UK to Cyprus, he said the UK is close with the Greek Cypriot side.
Tatar pointed out that there are tens of thousands of British nationals living in TRNC and large numbers of Turkish Cypriots in UK, asserting that their inability to travel to the TRNC on direct flights has "essentially become a human rights issue."
If the UK approves direct flights to the TRNC, it will have the Greek Cypriot administration to confront, Tatar said, underlining that launching direct flights would hinge on the Greek Cypriot administration's approval.
"We do not really want its approval anyway. Because if we accept its approval as the TRNC, in a sense, we will be swearing allegiance to its authority."
"If we are thinking about the long-term existence, future, independence, and freedom of the Turkish Cypriot people on this Island, we must attach great importance to this policy, take it seriously and make some sacrifices," Tatar added.
On the TRNC's "Water and Soil Resources Master Plan," Tatar said agricultural activities in Türkiye, especially on its southern coast to the Mediterranean Sea, are similar to those in the TRNC.
"Bringing water here is a completely different economic success and has changed the face of TRNC" he said.
Pointing to scientific research, Tatar said a wide range of agricultural activities aimed at productivity of TRNC land have been carried out with success.
Tatar also thanked Anadolu at the end of the interview saying the news agency "has always been the voice of Turkish Cypriots."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.