Turkish Cypriot leader urges EU to fulfil its promises

Ersin Tatar, president of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) urged the European Union to fulfil promises made to Turkish Cypriots, calling for an end to northern Cyprus’s international isolation.

Marking the 17th anniversary of the April 24 referendum, the most significant attempt to reunite the divided island, Tatar said none of the promises made before the referendum had been met in 17 years, Turkish Cypriot newspaper Yenidüzen reported on Friday.

On April 24, 2004, a comprehensive solution formula on Cyprus proposed by the United Nations, better known as the Annan plan, was put to the vote in simultaneous referendums on both sides of the island. Named after the U.N. Secretary General at the time, Kofi Annan, the plan was supported by 65 percent of Turkish Cypriots, while Greek Cypriots voted against it with an overwhelming 76 percent.

“Both the EU and the United States have promised that the international isolation imposed on Turkish Cypriots would end, if the referendum failed due to Greek Cypriots,” Tatar said. “However, while Turkish Cypriots were punished, the Greek Cypriot side who voted ‘No’ was rewarded.”

A federation is no longer possible as a solution in the island, Tatar said, adding that Turkey and TRNC continue to call for a two-state solution.

“Therefore, we also urge the EU to stop supporting the Greece and Greek-Cypriot duo who, in a sense, defend the deadlock by demanding a federation,” Tatar said.

Turkey and the pro-Ankara government in Turkish Cypriot-controlled northern Cyprus reject the U.N. solution, which is also supported by the United States and European Union. Both say that talks on the model have failed numerous times, and demand recognition of statehood for the north. The Turkish proposal currently calls for a two-state solution, and “cooperation based on sovereign equality on the island”, as Tatar expressed.

On the other hand, Greece and the internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus, governed by Greek Cypriots, are against a two-state solution, saying that a solution can only be reached under the U.N. model by a bicommunal, bizonal federation, with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship, and a single international representation.

Cyprus remains divided since 1974, when Turkey intervened in the island to counter a Greece-backed coup. Numerous diplomatic initiatives aimed at reuniting the island have taken place since 1974, but none have succeeded thus far.     

After a hiatus on Cyprus talks since 2017 in Crans Montana, Switzerland, the United Nations will chair an informal meeting between April 27 and 29 in Geneva. It has said that the five-party talks are to decide whether there is common ground to resume peace negotiations. The five parties involved include the Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides and the three guarantor powers of the island, namely Turkey, Greece and Britain. The latter has military bases in the south.

The Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, controls the southern two-thirds of the island and the TRNC, a self-styled state proclaimed in 1983 and recognised only by Turkey, governs the remaining third in the north.