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‘We must work together’ Tatar tells Greek Cypriots (Updated)

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Ersin Tatar

There are many sectors in which there can be close cooperation, Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said in an interview – in which he reiterated his position that in Cyprus there are two peoples and two states.

He conceded, however, that the push for two states has not received the international backing which he had hoped for.

“You know very well how Southern Cyprus was admitted to the EU, for us this was a major disappointment – the people who said no to the Annan plan were rewarded; we had said yes,” he told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), referring to the Republic of Cyprus.

A central theme of his message is that the Turkish Cypriots’ isolation on the international stage must end.

In his wide ranging and in-depth interview, Tatar made comments such as that the Turkish Cypriots were forced out of the 1960s government under the threat of a gun.

On his stated aim of achieving closer cooperation, he said: “Cyprus is a small island, on this island we must work together in all sectors for the benefit of the people so that they can look to the future with hope.

“Cooperation, dialogue and good communication must continue, personally I believe there is a Greek Cypriot community which truly understands us,” Tatar said.

For example, he said, if the Republic were to recognise the north then Ankara would in turn recognise the Republic – a “win-win” situation – which means Turkey’s ports, airports and tourism market would offer significant economic opportunities for the Republic, too.

“It’s not just the Turkish republic as there is significant dynamism along with them, such as Azerbaijan until Kazakhstan,” Tatar added.

He further stated that there are many possible confidence building measures which would benefit both communities.

Tatar focused on issues such as sharing resources and creating the infrastructure to facilitate such trade, pointing to water and electricity from Turkey which could benefit the Republic too.

He gave the example of energy interconnectors which, as he described, are far more feasible via Turkey – which is just 40km away – rather than connecting to the EU via Greece.

He also reiterated that Cyprus faces threats of natural disasters such as earthquakes and fires which means cooperation is necessary.

“I hope it [an earthquake] never happens, but if it does what will you do on that day? I’ll go to Larnaca and you go to Kyrenia,” he told CNA.

“So how can this cooperation take place? We have gained significant experience in this area [earthquakes] and you [the Republic] have experienced partners with international contacts,” Tatar added.

The Turkish Cypriot leader again declined the idea of withdrawing Turkish troops or rescinding the Turkish right of guarantee, while also rejecting the proposal for the EU to have a more active role in the Cyprus problem.

Tatar was also asked whether he can truly act independently without orders from Turkey, to which he replied that he is the advocate of the new strategy in Cyprus that Turkey has agreed to.

Across the divide, government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said that the Cyprus problem will not be solved through public statements.

“We will continue to work towards restarting the negotiations,” he said, adding that the government is trying to improve the situation and create a positive climate conducive to talks.

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