Ahead of the five-party informal conference on the Cyprus issue this week in Geneva, Turkish-Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar reiterated his insistence that a solution to the island’s problem must be based on the premise of two sovereign states, and not on the bizonal, bicommunal federation which has been the agreed basis for reunification talks since the 1970s, after Turkey’s invasion and military occupation.
In a wide-ranging interview with Kathimerini, Tatar also left open the possibility of returning property belonging to Greek Cypriots in the ghost town of Varosha in the Turkish-occupied north and claimed that Turkey must maintain its guarantor status and its troops must remain on the island to defend the Turkish Cypriots. He also noted that Cyprus is important for Turkey’s security and it has say in the region.
“We have to see the reality. All federation-based talks failed. The most important of these projects, in which the whole world participated, was the Annan Plan and for this project 65% of Turkish Cypriots said ‘yes’ while 75% of Greek Cypriots said ‘no,’” he said, adding that immediately after they rejected the Annan Plan, the Greek Cypriots joined the European Union. Cyprus, Greece and the EU have expressed strong opposition to the two-state solution as a violation of relevant UN resolutions and agreements.
Tatar also said he was against the EU’s presence at the Geneva conference.
“The EU is not an interested party,” he said. “The EU does not understand us because the Greek-Cypriot administration is a member. They cannot be objective,” he said, while also lavishing praise on Turkey for “always been by our side and when there was a need it sent its army and its aircraft.”