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Johnson says Cyprus settlement in everyone’s interest, UNSG ‘remains committed’ (updated)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday said he remains committed to supporting both sides in Cyprus in revitalising the political process while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a settlement was in everyone’s interests.

“The Secretary-General has taken note of the election of Mr Ersin Tatar as the Turkish Cypriot leader. The Secretary-General remains committed to supporting both sides in revitalising the political process and to exploring the possibility of convening an informal five-plus-UN meeting with both leaders and the guarantor powers at an appropriate stage,” his spokesman said.

Reports said this could be as soon as November.

Guterres also encouraged both sides to continue confidence-building measures to bring the two communities closer together.

“He further calls on the two sides and all relevant parties to avoid any unilateral actions that could undermine the prospects for renewed negotiations,” the spokesman said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson discussed Tatar’s win in the north with his Greek counterpart Kyriacos Mitsotakis.

A spokesman said they discussed the elections in the north and the win by Tatar, backed by Turkey, who favours separate administrations.

“The prime minister was clear that a settlement in Cyprus was in everyone’s interest,” the spokesman said.

Also commenting on Tatar’s win, the EU Commission said: “It is important now to see a constructive engagement with a view to reaching a comprehensive settlement and reunification.”

In a joint statement High Representative of the Union Josep Borrell and European Commissioner Eliza Ferreira added the commission supports the resumption of negotiations, under the auspices of the UN, and remains committed to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, and of reunification based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.

“A solution to the Cyprus problem would be to the benefit of Cyprus and the EU in general.

“A stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and the development of cooperative and mutually beneficial relationships amongst all partners in the region, bilaterally and multilaterally, is in the EUis strategic interest,” it said.

In an interview on Tuesday, Tatar reiterated that alternative solutions to the Cyprus problem other than the federal one need to be discussed.

He added there are challenges regarding the point talks reached at Crans Montana in 2017, and the situation has changed since then.

“It is impossible to only discuss a federation, and new alternatives must be brought to the table. During the past 50 years of talk, there has been no result,” he told Haber Kibris.

He also said he would meet President Nicos Anastasiades next week. Commenting on his phone conversation on Monday with Anastasiades, Tatar said: “I don’t have any problem with Nicos. The Greek Cypriot side already knows our views on the Cyprus problem. The issue is that we need to explain it to the international community.”

For this, Tatar said he asked for help from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

Referring to his win, British media described Tatar as ‘a nationalist Cambridge graduate’. He added he is a nationalist but that does not mean a sustainable solution to the Cyprus problem cannot be found. Tatar said he would work to find a solution to the Cyprus problem, where the Turkish Cypriots would not lose their rights and their interests would be protected.

Asked if he would have trouble travelling abroad because of a previous arrest warrant issued for him by the UK for his involvement in the Polly Peck case, where in 2012 Turkish Cypriot businessman Asil Nadir was convicted on 10 charges involving the theft of nearly £29m from his Polly Peck empire.

Tatar worked for Polly Peck from 1986 to 1991 as the company’s assistant treasurer.

During the trial in 2012, the prosecution alleged that Tatar assisted Nadir in the dishonest movement of money from PPI and enjoyed a close working relationship with the Polly Peck boss.

Tatar said he will not have any problems travelling abroad or to the state-controlled area.

“I can go wherever I want abroad. I can also go to south Cyprus. I have Greek Cypriot friends,” he said.

Tatar also said there is no issue of the north becoming annexed by Turkey, and Ankara has not asked for something like that.

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