President Nikos Christodoulides on Thursday said he “cannot understand” why Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar declined the chance of a tripartite meeting with himself and United Nations Envoy Maria Angela Holguin.

He said, “if we do not speak, how will we see if there is a prospect for a solution to the Cyprus problem? I cannot understand why anyone would not simply want to talk, but I will repeat that I do not want to prejudge developments out of my respect for Holguin’s work and for all those who are trying to help us in this effort.”

“Let’s wait to see the results and then we will position ourselves,” he added.

With this in mind, he said he would not “speak on behalf of Tatar” and that he will “let diplomacy work and hope there will be positive results”.

“I do not want to position myself because Tatar himself made these statements. I have never believed that we can make progress on the Cyprus problem through public statements,” he added.

He also made reference to a forthcoming meeting to be held between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying Cyprus “always has a special interest” in such meetings.

“The Cyprus problem will of course be among the issues discussed, and some message will be conveyed from Mitsotakis’ side,” he said, while acknowledging that he “does not know” what Erdogan’s intentions are on the matter of Cyprus.

Tatar had told news website Kibris Postasi on Wednesday night that Holguin had proposed a trilateral meeting and that he had rejected it out of hand.

Meanwhile, Holguin on Thursday met with the Cyprus Turkish chamber of industry (KTSO), with its chairman Ali Kamacioglu explaining to her that 33 per cent of his members export products over the Green Line, utilising the Green Line regulation.

This, he said, shows that Turkish Cypriot industry is working at European Union standards but that the KTSO cannot officially aid in this process as it was founded after 1974.

“Despite the fact that we represent producers, the chamber of commerce (KTTO) acts on this front,” he added.

He also went on to state his belief that an agreement to solve the Cyprus problem will be based on facilitating trade, saying “this is the reason why European countries formed the EU.”

However, he said, Turkish Cypriot exporters are being “bullied” by the Republic, with various “problems with documents constantly arising”. He added that current conditions “favour the Greek Cypriots”.

It was also announced on Thursday that Holguin’s next meeting with Tatar will take place on Monday.

Also on Thursday, the north’s ‘foreign minister’ Tahsin Ertugruloglu reacted angrily to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s assertion that his country was “ready to assist” Holguin in her efforts.

Speaking to newspaper Kibris, he said, “the international community, including Russia, must immediately stop imposing outdated and exhausted solution formulae which completely ignore the realities on the island.”

“The foreign policies of the Republic of Turkey and the TRNC on the Cyprus problem are very clear. This policy is built on the current realities on the island,” he said.

Therefore, he said, “Russia, one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, must immediately stop acting within the framework of outdated Security Council resolutions which are disconnected from the current realities of the island.”

He said that instead, they should “give a new direction to their foreign policy based on the fact that there are two separate and self-governing states in Cyprus today.”