'Cyprus talks meaningless without sovereign equality'
Greek Cypriots push failed federation model, suggest 'unacceptable' constitutional changes, says Turkish Cypriot president
Official negotiations on the future of Cyprus are meaningless without recognition of the sovereign equality of both sides, the Turkish Cypriot president said on Thursday after the conclusion of informal talks in Geneva.
During three days of talks this week, the Greek Cypriot administration insisted on the failed federation model on the island and also suggested constitutional changes that are "unacceptable" for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Ersin Tatar told a press conference.
Alongside Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Tatar stressed that Turkish Cypriots have their own state and will not accept minority status in a Greek Cypriot-ruled federation. He said before starting formal negotiations on a settlement, the equal international status and sovereign equality of the two sides must be recognized.
Tatar sharply criticized Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades' proposal to open Ercan International Airport near the TRNC's capital Lefkosa and the Gazimagusa seaport to international traffic under UN supervision and only after his own authorization.
"This is an insult to Turkish Cypriots," Tatar said, underlining the TRNC's sovereign rights.
On Tuesday, Tatar presented a six-point proposal to the UN stressing the establishment of a cooperative relationship between the two sides on the island, with both enjoying equal international status.
Cavusoglu said Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades was not able to bring a new vision to the talks in Geneva but rather rehashed "existing rhetoric."
Cavusoglu said Turkey would continue to support the two-state solution based on sovereign equality endorsed by the TRNC, stressing that they would not compromise on the independence, sovereignty, or equality of Turkish Cyprus.
Unjustified Greek Cypriot claim ‘root cause’ of problems
Cavusoglu said the root cause of the Cyprus problem has been the Greek Cypriot administration’s claim to be the sole legitimate government for the whole island, a claim he called unjustified.
He said that they would not make any concessions on the independence, sovereignty, or equality of the TRNC and that if these principles are understood the two states can then negotiate how to cooperate in the future. If not, Turkey will continue its way with the TRNC, he added.
Cavusoglu said that the Greek side is seeking to pick up from where they left off in the failed Crans-Montana talks in 2017 as if nothing happened.
"I think he forgot or is trying to make us forget that he was the one who overturned the table in Crans-Montana, but we brought it up again,” said the Turkish foreign minister.
Cavusoglu also decried Anastasiades' attempts to change the agenda at the 2017 talks and introduce irrelevant issues.
Cavusoglu also said the hydrocarbon issue and the issue of revenue sharing are important issues that recently caused tension in the Eastern Mediterranean, yet the Greek side clearly showed that they do not want to share hydrocarbon revenues with the TRNC.
Explaining how during the meeting Greece pushed for the failed federation option, Cavusoglu said as expected Greece hid behind UN Security Council resolutions that envisioned a federation and advocated renegotiating the model, which has not yielded results for 50 years.
‘No common ground’ yet
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said earlier on Thursday that there was "no common ground yet" to resume formal negotiations on a Cyprus settlement.
"We have been able to agree that I will convene in the near future another meeting of the 5+1, again with the objective to move in the direction of reaching the common ground to allow for formal negotiations to start," said the UN chief, referring to the format of the meeting: both sides on the island, the guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and the UN, plus the EU.
"We are determined to do everything we can to make this dialogue move on," said Guterres.
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 EU.