Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar on Monday controversially referred to bicommunal technical committees as bilateral ones in what is seen as another reference to his stated aim of seeking a two-state solution.
After a meeting with the Turkish Cypriot cochairs of the committees, an announcement issued by Tatar’s office said the committees would continue their work in the best possible way but referred to them as ‘bilateral technical committees’ instead of bicommunal ones.
After being briefed about the work of the committees, it said, Tatar also stated that the work of the committees was on a voluntary basis and requires dedication.
Reference to “bilateral” committees rather than bicommunal is in line with Tatar’s position that two separate states ought to exist on the island instead of a bizonal, bicommunal federal state.
The bicommunal technical committees were established in 2008 by the then leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities under the auspices of the United Nations, to address issues that affect the day-to-day life of people. The committees were a way for cooperation between the two sides on various issues such as health, cultural heritage, crime, commercial matters, education and environment among other things, which otherwise would have been impossible at official level since the north is not a recognised state.
After Tatar’s election last October as the new Turkish Cypriot leader some technical committee members had resigned, such as those of the committee on culture who had argued that the outcome of the elections did not reflect and comply with the collective principles identified and agreed by all the members.
The Turkish Cypriot members of the technical committee on gender equality had also announced their resignation at the time.