LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
The new president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) vowed to work towards bringing the two sides of the island to the negotiation table, based on sovereign equity.
Ersin Tatar, who was sworn in on Friday, gave his first interview to Anadolu Agency at the Presidency of the TRNC.
Tatar said he would not only focus on negotiations like previous presidents, but would especially work on the economy, as well as in the social and sports areas, for Turkish Cypriots to be recognized in the world as a separate nation.
Noting that there are many TRNC citizens living in Turkey and the UK, he said he aimed to strengthen their bonds and interests in their homeland.
‘We need to work in harmony with Turkey’
Tatar underlined that he would pay his first official visit to Turkey upon the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, thanking him for the invitation.
“I attach great importance to it. I believe this meeting will give the world the message, ‘We know and give importance to the TRNC and its newly-elected president,'” Tatar said.
Highlighting that he gave importance to his relations with Turkey, he said he would also work to strengthen ties both between the governments and the peoples of the two countries.
Cyprus is a common cause, he said, adding that the Eastern Mediterranean issue was a part of this cause. “We should always move together with the Republic of Turkey, especially after the recent discovery of the hydrocarbon wealth [in the Eastern Mediterranean], on sharing it with the awareness of its importance for this country’s future.
“When Turkish Cypriots were alone, the Republic of Turkey was with them.”
He said that working in harmony with Turkey made the TRNC strong and the two countries would determine a mutual policy in the negotiation process.
‘Alternative solution methods needed’
Stressing that despite the goodwill of the Turkish side, the attitude of the Greek side on the Eastern Mediterranean was clear during the negotiation processes, Tatar said: “Now, alternative solution models should be laid on the table. On the basis of sovereign equality, I’ll work to bring the two states living side by side and those states’ cooperation on the negotiation table more.”
He said the two-state solution could not be denied and no one would allow this structure to be changed.
“The Republic of Turkey is our homeland. We were able to see these days under its guarantorship.”
Tatar said that after the hydrocarbon discovery, international actors sought to position themselves in the region despite having no ties to there.
He said such countries are complicit in plots with Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration.
‘We’ll never compromise’
Noting the Ottoman Empire’s conquest of Cyprus with 60,000 martyrs in 1571, he said the island remained under Ottoman rule until 1878.
The British then took control of the island until the 1960s, he said.
Tatar said that when the Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960, his father and grandfather were also there, along with Turkish officials.
He said it was written in its constitution that two equal nations lived on the island, adding that even though there had been a chance to solve the Cyprus issue in 1974, this did not happen.
“Because the Greeks never saw the Turks as equal. They said: ‘We are more crowded, stronger; so we’ll be everywhere, the whole of Cyprus will be ours,'” he said, noting that he always defended the TRNC’s self-governance and self-determination.
“Now, the Turkish Cypriots should stand up for a new future. Some renovations are needed for a safer, more promising future,” Tatar said.
He said they would never forget their “Turkishness” as no progress could be made without knowing their national roots.
‘Turkish Cypriots’ approval needed in Greek side’s agreements’
On hydrocarbons in the region, Tatar said the surest route would be for the TRNC to cooperate with Turkey in researching and sharing these resources.
Tatar pointed out that the Greek side did not share hydrocarbon resources with the Turkish side and did not attempt to negotiate, adding that they also responded negatively to the TRNC’s proposals.
“In accordance with international law, agreements signed by the Greek side require the approval of the Turkish Cypriots. This is unlawfulness,” he stressed.
No expectations from EU
Tatar said Greece and Greek Cypriots were members of the EU, and for that reason the bloc needed to be careful.
“As it has a side, I do not expect anything,” he said, adding that Turkey’s stance on the matter was of great importance as it gained a “great advantage” for both countries.
UN, Greek Cypriots block diplomatic recognition
Tatar said the names for his Cabinet were ready and that he prioritized experience.
He said there would be new names and that these would help raise new generations.
“There are two separate nations, two separate states in Cyprus. We continue to tell all the world about it,” he said, noting that students from more than 100 countries were studying in the TRNC.
If we are not recognized diplomatically, it is because the UN is blocking it, he said, stressing that he is in contact with authorities to achieve diplomatic recognition.
Overcoming embargoes, isolation and restrictions will be on the agenda, according to Tatar, who added: “It’s against human rights to still not have direct flights.”
* Writing by Sena Guler
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