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Tatar sends letter to EU and UN on ‘how he sees the way forward’

comment koumoullis tatar (left) has warmly embraced a two state solution
Ersin Tatar (left) has warmly embraced a two state solution

Turkish Cypriot Ersin Tatar has sent a letter to the UN Secretary General laying out his side’s approach to the Cyprus issue and how he sees the process going forward.

Tatar made the reveal about the letter during an interview with a news agency in the north. He said he would publicise the missive – which he also sent to certain heads of EU states – soon.

In the interview, the Turkish Cypriot leader said it is not yet clear when a follow-up informal meeting will take place following the one held in April in Geneva.

The Geneva conference ended in stalemate.

But according to Tatar, contacts are ongoing, and the search for ‘common ground’ continues. Next week the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy Jane Holl Lute will be visiting Ankara and Athens – two of the guarantor powers – while a British foreign ministry official is currently on the island.

Tatar spoke at length about the process, as he saw it, at the informal Geneva summit. He focused in particular on a so-called ‘bottom-up’ approach, which he suggested was promoted or advocated by Britain.

Explaining the ‘bottom-up’ concept, he said it provides for two sovereign states existing side by side, two sovereign “peoples” – a joint structure under other jurisdictions, such as foreign relations.

“Naturally, the concept of sovereign peoples alone does not satisfy us. We insist on two separate states. If you cede sovereignty to the centre [the central government], you will beg the centre to give you sovereignty…so I believe that this format, this ‘bottom up’ approach is progress as far as we’re concerned.”

Tatar went on to say that Turkish Cypriots do not wish to wait “for another 500 years” for a solution, arguing that it is Greek Cypriots who have stonewalled a solution.

“I want to stress, when we say ‘cooperation’ [between the two states], I mean we can work on all matters – from exploiting natural resources, to foreign relations, environmental and water policies, crime.”

In his view, the key point lies in Turkish Cypriot community needing to be regarded as a sovereign political entity.

He explained that the Greek Cypriot side – having joined the EU – would end up becoming dominant in a reunified state based on the previous formula of a bizonal bicommunal federation.

This benefits the Greek Cypriots, because with the departure of Turkish troops from the north “there will be a completely rebalancing here.

“If we [Turkish Cypriots] are sovereign, then even if we are inside the EU following a deal, we can keep our agreements and relations with Turkey in the same way.

“Therefore, equality in sovereignty, in a sense, beyond the balance between the two peoples of Cyprus, also addresses the balance between Turkey and Greece.”

On the issue of the crossing points reopening – closed for months due to the coronavirus situation – Tatar said his side is ready to do so, but is waiting on the Greek Cypriots to make up their mind, once the parliamentary elections are over.

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