President Nicos Anastasiades on Wednesday expressed hope that newly elected Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar’s statements on the Cyprus problem so far are not his final position after the latter voiced support for a two-state solution and more involvement by Turkey in the north.
Following a meeting in Nicosia with Greek Prime Minister Kyriacos Mitsotakis, Anastasiades said that he has contacted Tatar and expressed his readiness to take part in any new initiative by the UN Secretary-general for a creative dialogue to resume “so that real peace can finally prevail in both Cyprus and the region.”
And he added: “I hope that the positions expressed so far by the Turkish Cypriot leader will not be the final goal because in such a case, you realise that we will have a departure” (from what has been agreed so far).
The two leaders are to reportedly meet on Monday at a social event to be organised by the UN in the buffer zone. Anastasiades had invited Tatar for a first, informal meeting right after his election.
The two sides had agreed that the settlement will be based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation with political equality, as set out in the relevant Security Council resolutions and the High-Level Agreements. Tatar, however, is in favour of alternatives such as a two-state solution which he reiterated during an interview with Turkish online channel TVNET.
Tatar, who was openly backed by Ankara during the election campaign, said he was proud to be Turkey’s man in the north and that he was in favour of the co-existence of two states on the island.
Anastasiades on Tuesday said that while the meeting on which they have jointly decided for next week is pending, and in view of the UN Secretary-general’s initiatives, he did not want to make statements that could torpedo the climate.
“What I am saying is that we remain set on finding a solution that is functional and therefore sustainable, based on UN resolutions, Security Council decisions but of course also on the principles and values of the EU of which we are a member and will remain after the solution,” the president said.
Tatar said during his interview with TVNET he was ready to start dialogue with the Greek Cypriot side aimed at the continuation of the existence of the breakaway ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’(TRNC’) and of the system of guarantees.
On the Cyprus problem, he said, his moves would be through consultations with Turkey.
He reportedly said relations with Turkey would continue to protect the Turkish Cypriots’ rights.
“The guarantees will continue to exist, the TRNC will exist, it will definitely be a state that will continue to exist,” Tatar said.
He said he would start a dialogue based on this framework.
He added that two states on the island were preferable, dismissing the federal solution as a trap.
“The federation is a complete trap,” he said. Under this trap, he said, Turkey would withdraw from the island, and the majority (Greek Cypriots) would swallow the minority like a pill. “They outnumber us. Their economy is in good condition, everyone supports them financially. We stand only with the support of Turkey. We got up to here with Turkey and we will continue with it,” he said.
He added that he never had the same political thinking as outgoing leader Mustafa Akinci.
“Akinci was more in favour of a partnership with the Greek Cypriots. We too have rights,” Tatar.
Tatar also said that, for a happier future, Turkish Cypriots must strengthen their ties with Turkey, adding that his goal is for his community to live in greater prosperity and security.
During the interview, Tatar praised Turkey, its support and sacrifices as regards Cyprus.
“We will fight as hard as we can to make the TRNC stronger. Turkey’s support is very important and we will not forget its support and love,” he said.
To criticism that he was Turkey’s man in the north, he said he was proud to play that role, putting forth his Turkish heritage. “I am a child of a Turk, I am a Turk,” he reportedly said.
He also said that Turkey has built “a very nice hospital” in the north, referring to a pandemic hospital being built in Nicosia, and expressed hope that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would come to Cyprus to inaugurate it together.