Ersin Tatar, President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
The President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Ersin Tatar discussed the Cyprus issue Friday with the UN mission chief to Cyprus.
Tatar received Colin Stewart, special representative and head of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), who began duties this week.
Noting that there are two separate people, state and democracy on the island, Tatar underlined the importance of sovereignty.
He told Stewart that there could be an agreement with the cooperation of the two structures on the island, including the TRNC and the Greek Cypriot administration.
Stressing that he is ready to meet Stewart frequently, he said he will meet Greek leader Nicos Anastasiades on Dec. 14. upon his invitation.
The Turkish Cypriot side has never and will not avoid any meeting and contact, he said, adding that they will not start official negotiations until sovereign equality and equal international status are accepted.
Tatar told Stewart that an agreement on Cyprus must be fair, lasting, sustainable, realistic and practical.
He also reiterated that Turkish Cypriots will continue to seek their rights with the support of Turkey.
Stewart said that he had a “good meeting” with Tatar and he wants to develop a close working relationship and be a constructive partner.
Underlining that he listened to the Turkish side’s perspective on the Cyprus issue during his first meeting with Tatar, Stewart said he always respected the positions of all parties.
He avoided a question about unilateral drilling works carried out by the Greek Cypriot side in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
Ethnic attacks starting in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.
In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece’s annexation led to Turkey’s military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the TRNC was founded in 1983.
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 Greek Cypriot administration entered the EU in 2004, the same year Greek Cypriots thwarted the UN’s Kofi Annan plan to end the longstanding dispute.
*Writing by Gozde Bayar