LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

The only way to make progress on the Cyprus issue is a two-state solution, said the Turkish Cypriot foreign minister on Wednesday.

“Our perspective for resolution is the two-state model based on the principle of cooperation and co-existence of two sovereign states with equal rights,” said Tahsin Ertugruloglu, foreign minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

Stressing that federal proposals for Cyprus which Greek and Turkish Cypriots could not agree on during decades of negations should be discarded, he told Pakistani media outlets: “We instead should focus on a two-state solution that is in line with the policy of the TRNC’s new president, Ersin Tatar.”

On the TRNC’s expectations for any future negotiations over the island, Ertugruloglu stressed that previous UN proposals – based on a federal, not two-state, model – failed to produce a resolution.

“If negotiations fail once again, we will consult with motherland [Turkey] as we always do and draw up a new roadmap,” he said.

There can be no common ground on the Cyprus issue as long as the Turkish side is treated unequally, Ertugruloglu explained.

On an unofficial 5+1 meeting – including both sides of the island, the guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and Britain, and the UN – set for April 27-29 in Geneva, Switzerland, as proposed by the Turkish side, he said it would not be an open-ended negotiation process.

– ‘EU has no place at 5+1 meeting’

Ertugruloglu also explained why they rejected a proposal by Greek Cypriot administration President Nicos Anastasiades to include the EU at the 5+1 meeting.

“Greek Cypriots are part of the EU as a member state, and they are after maximizing their own interests through various mechanisms of the bloc. As such, the EU cannot act neutrally in the Cyprus issue. Against this background, the EU has no place at the 5+1 meeting,” he said.

– Cyprus, Pakistan, Kashmir

Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long struggle between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

The island has been divided since 1964, when ethnic attacks forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aiming at Greece’s annexation led to Turkey’s military intervention as a guarantor power. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was founded in 1983.

The Greek Cypriot administration, backed by Greece, became a member of the EU in 2004, although most Greek Cypriots rejected a UN settlement plan in a referendum that year, which had envisaged a reunited Cyprus joining the European Union.

On Pakistani-TRNC relations, Ertugruloglu stressed the special bonds between the two countries and reiterated their support to Pakistan on the Kashmiri problem.

Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of the region is also controlled by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965, and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir.

Some Kashmiri groups have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights groups, thousands of people have been killed and tortured in the conflict since 1989.

*Writing by Ahmet Gencturk

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