Northern Cyprus' president condemns US senator over anti-Turkey remarks
Words of senator who received medal for lobbying activity do not bind us, says Ersin Tatar
GIRNE, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
The president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) condemned a US senator Wednesday over his recent comments on the Turkish military presence on the disputed island.
Speaking to reporters after participating in an event in Girne (Kyrenia) district of Cyprus, Ersin Tatar said Bob Menendez’s statement about his goal to see the last Turkish soldier leave the island is “completely empty and baseless.”
Tatar was referring to remarks made by the US official at a ceremony Monday where he was presented the Grand Collar of the Order of Makarios III by the Greek Cypriot administration.
Stating that Menendez’s remarks are “unacceptable,” Tatar said September 21 is World Peace Day and that peace in Cyprus was ensured thanks to the presence of the Turkish Armed Forces.
He added that the UN, UK, US and the whole world knows what happened in Cyprus despite the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee.
Adding that the mentality of the Greek Cypriots has not changed despite the passing years, Tatar said that any step that will take the Turkish Cypriots back to 1974 and 1960 would never be accepted.
He emphasized that the security of Turkish Cypriots is important and that this security is ensured by the presence of Turkish soldiers under the guarantor of Turkey.
"Turkish soldiers are on the island for peace. They have no other purpose or intention," he said.
“The statement of a senator who came from the US and received a medal for being a member of a lobbying activity does not bind us,” he stressed. “This rhetoric is completely empty, baseless, far from the realities of Cyprus. Therefore, it is not possible for us to respect such a statement. We condemn it."
Reiterating the TRNC’s position of sovereign equality and a two-state solution, Tatar said the withdrawal of Turkish soldiers from the island is a “big trap and plot” to them, stressing that they will never be “deceived.”
“The presence of the Turkish Armed Forces here and providing security is of vital importance for us. It is our indispensable and red line,” he added.
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek 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 led to Turkey'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 Turkey, Greece and the UK.
The Greek Cypriot administration entered the European Union in 2004, the same year Greek Cypriots thwarted a UN plan to end the longstanding dispute.
A UN-led unofficial Cyprus conference was held in Geneva this April to seek common ground to negotiate a lasting solution to the decades-old conflict.
Turkey, Greece and the UK also took part in the meeting.
Tatar said they will also be holding bilateral meetings in September in New York, expressing their view on the Cyprus issue.
“I don't think that the two sides can reach a consensus on sovereign equality and the search for common ground has not achieved results at the moment. Still, we will be in New York and we will continue our contacts,” he added.
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