Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar attends the commemoration ceremony of Turkish martyrs at the Museum of Barbarism, which showcases the memories of civilians killed by Greek militants in Nicosia, Dec. 24, 2020. (AA Photo)
The Turkish Cypriot president reiterates that the two-state solution is the only way for both peoples to live peacefully in coexistence on the island and that the Greek leadership should quit dreams of Enosis
The president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Ersin Tatar called on his southern counterpart Nicos Anastasiades late Saturday to “not pursue unrealistic dreams” and support the two-state solution on the divided Eastern Mediterranean island.
“We have brought the two-state solution to the agenda, with the support of Turkey. For the existence of our state, for the freedom, safety and sovereignty of our nation, we support the two-state solution. We will continue to advance on this path,” he said.
Tatar underlined that a solution to establish a federation collapsed during the Crans-Montana Cyprus talks in 2017 because the Greek side was not interested in a fair agreement.
The talks, which began on June 28, 2017, and were monitored by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s special adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, failed after 10 days of intense discussions.
The Greek Cypriot side leaked files, which the U.N. had classified as confidential, to the Greek media before sending them to the U.N. and the Turkish side, and while the Greeks never strayed from their discourse of “zero troops, zero guarantees,” they also did not take any constructive steps toward offers and suggestions.
“Mr. Anastasiades, who said ‘I will not discuss any solution other than federation and I support what I said at Crans-Montana,’ in his first remarks in 2021, claimed that U.N. Secretary-General’s former Cyprus envoy Mr. Eide formulated the two-state solution and tried to pass the buck,” he said.
Tatar added that Anastasiades “himself knows” that the two-state solution is the only way to go – an issue he has discussed with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
“But nonetheless, Mr. Anastasiades, who has been under intense pressure from the Greek Orthodox Church, the AKEL and the ELAM, has to go back to old policies,” Tatar added, referring to the communist Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) and the fascist ELAM Party (National Popular Front).
The president also said Anastasiades “tried to hide the truths” by claiming that “Turkey is attempting to annex Cyprus” and that it “hindered the implementation of the constitution of the Republic of Cyprus.”
Tatar added that former President Archbishop Makarios III and Greek leadership called the Southern Cyprus “a stepping stone to Enosis” and an “intermediate objective,” referring to the idea of Cyprus being annexed by Greece.
The Turkish Cypriot leader also said the Greek leadership has wanted to “destroy” the constitutional rights granted to the Turks living on the island.
Tatar underlined that the Turkish Cypriots remember well what happened during the Bloody Christmas massacre in 1963.
While the Turkish Cypriots were discriminated against and alienated by the Greek Cypriots in state institutions, systematic and comprehensive attacks began on Dec. 21, 1963, which was later termed as Bloody Christmas.
A total of 103 Turkish Cypriot villages were attacked, leading to hundreds of deaths. The bloody campaign also displaced 30,000 Turkish Cypriots, who had to take shelter in an area constituting merely 3% of the island.
Tatar also reminded that the Greek junta’s July 15, 1974, coup aimed to annex Cyprus into Greece.
“Should Turkey have not carried out the July 20 Peace Operation, the Cypriot Turkish people would be subjected to genocide and buried in mass graves. We have to also remember what former Greek Prime Minister Kostas Simitis said,” Tatar added, referring to the former premier’s remarks that “Enosis has been achieved with Cyprus’ membership in the European Union.”
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey used its guarantor rights to intervene in the island after a far-right military coup sponsored by the military junta, then in power in Athens, sought to unite the island with Greece and toppled President Archbishop Makarios III. After decades of interethnic violence and terror, mainly targeting the island’s British colonial rulers until independence in 1960, Turkish Cypriots were forced to live in enclaves after Greek Cypriots unilaterally changed the constitution in 1963. The Turkish Cypriot community was stripped of their political rights in violation of the constitution and founding agreements signed in 1959 between Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot community leaders and guarantor powers Great Britain, Greece and Turkey.
After 1974, the island was divided by a 180-kilometer (120-mile) buffer zone patrolled by the U.N., and crossings apart from those for diplomatic purposes were rare. The TRNC, established in 1983, is only recognized by Turkey and faces a long-standing embargo in commerce, transportation and culture. Meanwhile, the Greek Cypriot Administration enjoys recognition by the international community as the Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960, which is a member of the EU.
In 2003, the TRNC government eased the crossing restrictions for Turkish Cypriot citizens and allowed crossings to be made with identity cards and passports without prior notice, while also easing restrictions for those traveling from Greek Cyprus to Turkish Cyprus. The move was a normalization and goodwill gesture a year before a peace plan championed by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was put to vote in a referendum and agreed to by the Turkish community but rejected by the Greeks.