Cyprus would have become Greek had Turkey not intervened, president says

Cyprus would have become Greek had Turkey not intervened militarily on the island in 1974, Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar said on Monday.

The Turkish Cypriot government’s insistence on negotiating a solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of two equal states is aimed at ensuring the sovereign rights of Turkish Cypriots continue to be protected, Tatar said, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.

“If a peace operation had not been carried out in Cyprus on the morning of July 20 (1974) for our security of life, property and independence, Cyprus would have turned into a Greek island today,” he said during a ceremony marking the 38th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

Tatar said the proclamation of the TRNC in 1983 was also a result of the Greek Cypriot side’s refusal to accept Turkish Cypriots’ sovereign equality, its refusal to share power and wealth, and the unwillingness of the international community to hear the voice of the Turkish Cypriot side.

Cyprus was ethnically divided when Turkey invaded the north in response to a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece. Since then, the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus has controlled the southern two-thirds of the island, and the TRNC, only recognised by Turkey, the northern third.

Tatar reiterated that the Cyprus problem cannot be resolved through a federal model, the basis of reunification negotiations for over 50 years. The TRNC will not enter into a negotiation process when “Turkish Cypriots’ sovereign equality and equal international status are accepted”, he said.

“A just and sustainable solution in Cyprus can only be achieved based on the existing two states and the equal international status and sovereign equality of the two sides,” Tatar said. “We prefer finding solutions to the problems instead of stepping into new problems and an uncertain future on the island.”

Numerous diplomatic efforts to reunify Cyprus under a federal model have failed. Cypriot leaders and representatives of Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom - the three guarantor powers of the island - held informal talks in Geneva in late April to seek common ground for the re-opening of formal negotiations. No agreement was reached after the Turkish Cypriot side, backed by Turkey, called for the two-state solution. The Greek Cypriot-controlled Republic of Cyprus and Greece insist on a bizonal, bicommunal federation, citing U.N. resolutions on Cyprus.

Tatar said political arguments over the ghost town of Varosha had introduced a new dimension to the Cyprus issue. The Turkish authorities partially re-opened the fenced-off resort town in October last year, uninhabited since Turkey invaded the island, and cleared part of its beach. The United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Greece have slammed the move as a violation of U.N. regulations.

“Maras (Varosha) is under our sovereignty and is the territory of the TRNC,” Tatar said. It was “extremely important in terms of human rights” that the (property) rights holders, who have not been able to use their properties for years, take care of their properties following the abolition of the military zone status,” he said.





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