LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus/ANKARA

Through more than five decades of talks to resolve the Cyprus issue, the Greek side rejected all solution proposals, the Turkish foreign minister said on Friday.

“In these 53 years, Turkey and the TRNC [Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus] have been in extremely constructive approach and showed good intention, but the Greek Cypriot side that do not want to share anything with the Turkish Cypriots and its supporter Greece rejected all solution offers either in referendum or on the table,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said during his meeting with TRNC counterpart Tahsin Ertugruloglu in Lefkosa.

Cavusoglu said at the end of those negotiations the Greek Cypriots were rewarded, while the Turkish Cypriots were punished.

“We don’t have any more tolerance for this. Therefore, we propose a two-state solution based on sovereign equality,” he said.

Cavusoglu, who is on a working visit to the TRNC, said his visit comes ahead of an informal 5+1 meeting on Cyprus that will be held in Geneva this month. The common stance of Ankara and Lefkosa will be decided during his visit, he stated.

He said the last meeting before going to Geneva will be held in Ankara and then they plan to go to Switzerland together.

“If there is a common ground, negotiations may begin with new parameters,” Cavusoglu said, adding that the existing parameters such as UN Security Council resolutions, did not and will not benefit the process.

Observer status for TRNC in Turkic Council

He said that they evaluated with his counterpart bilateral relations and especially the TRNC’s diplomatic missions and activities abroad.

He recalled that Turkey has included its missions abroad in the vaccination campaign and said: “We included our dear friends working in TRNC missions in this campaign.”

“The TRNC has different status in some regional and international organizations,” he said, adding that applying for observer status within the Turkic Council was among the topics of their meeting.

The council was established in 2009 as an intergovernmental organization with an overarching aim of promoting comprehensive cooperation among Turkic-speaking states.

It consists of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan as member countries, and Hungary as an observer state.

Following the meeting, Cavusoglu said on Twitter: “Evaluated recent developments on #Cyprus and #EasternMediterranean w/FM @TahsinErturulo1 of #TRNC.”

He said the preparations for the upcoming meeting was discussed and added: “Will always continue to defend our national cause Cyprus and work together based on two state solution.”

Greek foreign minister’s remarks blasted

For his part, Ertugruloglu congratulated and thanked his Turkish counterpart for the solemn attitude and rightful opinions he showed towards Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias’ “impudent, spoiled and aggressive” remarks during a press conference in the Turkish capital Ankara on Thursday.

He said the discourse and attitude of the Greek minister that “threatened our homeland” with the EU card “proves how appropriate and right our stance is on why the EU should not be on the table at the 5+UN meeting” slated for late April.

“As it can be seen, the EU is not an impartial and objective union that can contribute positively to the issue, on the contrary, it is a union against us with its current member structure and there is no seat for it on the table,” Ertugruloglu said.

He said the only agenda of the upcoming meeting was to reveal whether there is a common ground on which the parties can negotiate in the future.

He said if there is a ground for inter-state process, a new negotiation process with a chance of success would be initiated.

“If there isn’t, this will be explained clearly and sincerely and as 53 years have been spent in vain, spending another 50-100 years for nothing will be prevented,” he said, adding that in such situation a new process will start.

The international community has to decide, he said, whether or not it will continue to discriminate against the Turkish Cypriot people unfairly.

For “one legal Cyprus” to be created there, Ertugruloglu said, it should be accepted first that there are two separate Cyprus.

“If there are two separate Cyprus, one legal Cyprus can be at the agenda,” he said.

Cyprus issue

The island of Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island’s Turks and Turkey’s intervention as a guarantor power.

It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and the UK.

The TRNC was founded in 1983.

In 2004, a plan proposed by then UN chief Kofi Annan to resolve the issue was accepted by the Turkish Cypriots, but rejected by the Greek Cypriots in twin referendums.

While Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration support a federation on Cyprus, Turkey and the TRNC insist on a two-state solution reflecting the realities on the island.

Turkey, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that their excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots.

Last year, Ankara sent out several drill ships to explore energy in the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting its rights in the region as well as those of the TRNC.

Turkish leaders have repeatedly stressed that Ankara is in favor of resolving outstanding problems in the region through international law, good neighborly relations, dialogue, and negotiations.

*Contributions and writing by Sena Guler in Ankara

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