Turkey, Europe

'Time for rational alternative policies on Cyprus'

Professor Huseyin Gokcekus shares his views on 2nd International Conference on Cyprus issue with Anadolu Agency

Fatih Hafiz Mehmet, Tugcenur Yilmaz   | 06.04.2019
'Time for rational alternative policies on Cyprus'

LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus 

It is time for new and rational alternative policies on the Cyprus issue, according to an academic. 

Professor Huseyin Gokcekus from Near East University in Lefkosa, the capital of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), made the comment while sharing his views on the 2nd International Conference on the Cyprus Issue with Anadolu Agency.

Gokcekus chaired the conference, titled “The Cyprus Issue: The Past, Present and Future of Cyprus" which was held between April 1 and 3 at the university.

"It is time for new and rational alternative policies to be implemented," he said.

He said policies that parties were attempting to implement forcefully until now are no longer sustainable.

Gokcekus said the First International Conference on the Cyprus issue was held in 2001 as the Greek Cypriot side applied unilaterally for membership in the EU.

After 18 years, a second conference was held with the same topic, as there were significant changes in conditions in Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean, he said.

Gokcekus said for half a century, there were negotiations on the Cyprus issue to reach a federal solution, which got nowhere.

"From now on, we want to live in two separate states with good neighborly relations," he said.

He said the discovery of hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean heightened the importance of the region. 

Pipeline plan in eastern Mediterranean

Gokcekus said the Greek Cypriots are taking unilateral actions on this issue and increasing tensions without recognizing the interests of Turkish Cypriots, which have the same rights on the island.

He said Italy, Greece, Israel and Greek Cypriots signed a cooperation protocol in 2018 to transfer the natural gas discovered in the eastern Mediterranean to European countries.

The protocol is far away from scientific reality and is a move to put political pressure on Turkey, he said.

"Laying the pipeline through the line that they agreed upon is nearly impossible from an engineering point of view," Gokcekus stressed.

He added that the solution to the issue lies in cooperating with Turkey and the TRNC.

In 1974, after a coup was launched aimed at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.

The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the dispute, all of which ended in failure. The latest attempt, in which guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the UK took part, ended in 2017 in Switzerland.

In 2004, a plan by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was accepted by Turkish Cypriots but rejected by the Greek Cypriots in dual referendums held on both sides of the island.

Talks have focused on a federal model based on the political equality of the Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides, but Greek Cypriots’ rejection of such a solution, including the Annan plan, led to the emergence of other models.

In a recent report, current UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also said "new ideas" may be needed for a settlement on the island.

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