Turks in Cyprus deserve sovereignty, says Turkish Cypriot leader

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said Turks on the divided Mediterranean island have reached a point where they deserve sovereignty and independence, “with support from Turkey”, Anadolu Agency reported on Friday.

Tatar, elected president in the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in October, said Turkey’s guaranteer status was crucial for Turkish Cypriots to live a free, independent and safe life on the island.

The Cyprus issue can be resolved on the basis of “sovereign equality”, Tatar said in Friday’s press conference he held together with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

The Turkish administration in northern Cyprus will speak about inter-state relations at the United Nations, Tatar said. “After that agreement is made, the hope and courage TRNC will provide to its own people on these lands for the future will lead to development and all the people of Cyprus will benefit from this.”

A U.N.-led summit is scheduled to take place between April 27 and 29 in Geneva to explore options for common ground in Cyprus, which has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the north of the island in response to a Greek Cypriot coup that sought unification with Greece.

“We will no longer waste time with a federal solution,” Çavuşoğlu said in the same press event. “We believe new ideas and a new vision should be discussed. To that end, we put forth a just, permanent and sustainable framework and vision that will be a win-win for all sides.”

Çavuşoğlu blamed Greek Cypriots for failed attempts to resolve the issue in the past.

The Turkish minister also spoke about a recent ruling by the TRNC’s constitutional court, saying the decision to ban Koran courses was a sensitive issue. While expressing faith in the rule of law, Çavuşoğlu said politicians “have a right to criticise rulings by the court”.

“This is an ideologically-driven decision,” Çavuşoğlu said. “It wasn’t made in accordance with the constitution or past rulings.”

“We believe statements by the (Cypriot) president and prime minister are important to rectify the matter,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Tatar in turn said that a shut-down of Koran courses in TRNC “could never happen”.

TRNC’s former president Mustafa Akıncı also commented on the matter, focusing on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s threat of “repercussions” to the constitutional court over the decision.

Akıncı, who said he had been threatened by the Turkish government to drop out of the presidential race last year, said Erdoğan “clearly sees Northern Cyprus as a province of Turkey” in a Facebook post on Friday.

“If there are still people left who can’t see what their open intervention with all their institutions and resources against our elections six months ago, today they must have finally understood,” Akıncı said.