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Tatar: ‘One tiny mistake’ could turn Cyprus into Gaza (updated)

Ersin Tatar
Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said in an interview with British newspaper the Daily Telegraph that “one tiny mistake” could turn Cyprus into “a new Gaza”.

He said, “a mistake or a misunderstanding such as the shooting of a Turkish soldier on the Green Line… would provoke a bomb between the two populations.”

“If you shoot one Turkish soldier, you will have 10,000 soldiers on the ground,” he added.

To this end, he said “everyone should be calm and reasonable. Turkish Cypriots are not alone – we have got 85 million Turks behind us, and they are just 40 miles away.”

“A little flare-up, that is what people are fearing. Look at what happened in Gaza. And before that, Ukraine. Before that, Bosnia,” he said.

Tatar’s comments drew the ire of government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis, who said they “do not contribute positively and do not reflect the future of our common homeland.”

In the interview, he went on to describe potential efforts towards a federal solution to the Cyprus problem as “a waste of time,” and added, “that’s all past. All those opportunities have been exhausted.

“How can you unite an island like this after so many years? You cannot possibly unite Cyprus. You have to accept the facts and accept reality,” he said.

With this in mind, he said the “only way forward is a two-state solution,” and suggested that Azerbaijan, Bangladesh and Pakistan may soon recognise the north, though this has not yet come to fruition.

Tatar is currently in the United States ahead of a planned meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York on Friday evening.

Letymbiotis said that what he expected from Tatar during his visit to the US would be a “positive position regarding the resumption of negotiations.

We hope that … [Tatar’s] attitude will be constructive, and that he will face with a positive attitude the Secretary-General’s call for a return to the negotiating table from the point at which negotiations were interrupted,” he said.

He advised that Tatar should do this “instead of making statements which do not contribute positively and do not reflect the future of our common homeland as a country in which its inhabitants will live together in peace, security and prosperity.”

To this end, he said President Nikos Christodoulides “will continue to make every possible effort in cooperation with Guterres and his personal envoy Maria Angela Holguin, to recommence negotiations and find a final solution to the Cyprus problem.

“We are looking to the future of Cyprus as a modern, reunited European country which will ensure the future of the next generations and the wellbeing of all Cypriots,” he said.

On Thursday evening, Tatar had travelled to Washington DC and met US Assistant Secretary of State for International Organisation Affairs Michele Sison and Assistant Secretary of State for Southern Europe and the Caucasus Joshua Huck.

He was accompanied in the meetings by his special representative Gunes Onar and the Turkish Cypriots’ representative in Washington DC Damla Guclu.

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