Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar says he will tell the UN Secretary-General’s envoy Jane Holl Lute at their upcoming meeting that formal negotiations on Cyprus can only take place on the basis of “equal equal international status and sovereignty”.

Lute arrives in Cyprus on Monday afternoon and is due to meet the leaders separately on Tuesday.
Speaking during a forum on Saturday, Tatar said that the aim of the informal Geneva conference on April 27-29 was to determine whether or not there was common ground between the parties.

The talks failed because the Turkish side is pursuing a two-state solution as opposed to the long-agreed bicommunal bizonal federation. The UN said it would call another meeting soon but if Lute does not find common ground to move forward a new conference will not happen.

Tatar claimed that a lot time has been wasted during Cyprus negotiations and that the Greek Cypriot side had benefited from the current status quo.

“We now support a two-state solution. Before I was elected president, I focused my entire election campaign on this,” he was quoted as saying.

“We said that we now want to lead this process with a new vision in Cyprus, that there can be no agreement on the basis of federation,” he said.

According to Tatar the Greek Cypriot side did not want to cooperate in a bicommunal federation and did not want to share power or wealth with the Turkish Cypriots. “Their goal was, as before, to make Cyprus a Greek island, and they do not hide that.”

Two independent states based on sovereign equality was the only path to a solution.

“In our meeting with Lute, we will emphasise that we can enter into formal negotiations only if our equal international status is accepted and that the Turkish Cypriot people are as sovereign as the Greek Cypriot people,” he said. “In Geneva, after all, we were constantly raising this.”

Tatar said that with Lute’s efforts there could be a second meeting but even if there was, the Turkish side’s positions would not change.

Referring to the partial opening of the fenced-off town of Varosha last October, Tatar said that ultimately under international law the properties there would be returned to their original owners, which “is compatible with human rights”.

Regarding Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s recent contacts with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Tatar said this would have a positive impact on the issue of the eastern Mediterranean and on Cyprus.