BY DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL MAR 22, 2022 –
Turkish Foreign Ministry sources have rejected the claims that Turkish officials held negotiations on confidence-building measures with Greek Cypriot officials on the Cyprus issue, adding that such proposals targeted the acquired rights of the Turkish Cypriots in the past.
The Greek Cypriot administration continues to seek the support of third parties, especially the European Union, for the so-called confidence-building measures. These measures envisage the return of Varosha (Maraş) to the Greek side in exchange for the opening of the Ercan Airport in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) under the auspices of the United Nations and the Famagusta Port under EU control to the commercial and other activities of Turkish Cypriots and the TRNC.
The sources of the Foreign Ministry told the Anadolu Agency (AA) Tuesday that the so-called confidence-building measures of the Greek Cypriots were out of date, tried and unsuccessful, and not serious proposals aimed at distracting the Cyprus issue from its essence and deceiving it.
“With these so-called proposals, the acquired rights of the Turkish Cypriots are targeted,” it added.
Stating that Turkey’s agenda is the reaffirmation of the acquired rights of the Turkish Cypriots in 1960, namely the sovereign equality and equal international status of the Turkish Cypriots, sources added: “Therefore, ‘confidence building measures’ are not on our agenda. In this context, the news that the package was discussed with the Greek Cypriot side by the authorities of our country is purposeful and untrue news aimed at creating a misperception.”
TRNC President Ersin Tatar called the offer a “propaganda stunt” aimed at keeping his people under their rivals’ thumb. Accepting it would amount to the Turkish Cypriots indirectly acknowledging the “sole authority (and) sovereignty of the Greek Cypriot polity over the island,” he said.
The foreign minister of Greek Cyprus recently proposed the return of the abandoned suburb Varosha to its former Greek Cypriot inhabitants in exchange for allowing the unrecognized Ercan Airport in the north to operate international flights under United Nations control and the Famagusta Port to run under EU management.
Varosha, a suburb of around 6.2 square kilometers (2.4 square miles) located on the Mediterranean island’s once-prosperous eastern coastline, had until recently remained under Turkish military control. Its inhabitants fled during a 1974 Turkish operation triggered by a coup aimed at a Cypriot union with Greece.
Only Turkey formally recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence, and it maintains more than 35,000 troops in the northern part of the island. Peace talks over the course of nearly 50 years have led nowhere.
Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides had described the proposal as a confidence-building measure that would hopefully lead to a return to the peace negotiations.
Tatar is a supporter of a Turkey-backed two-state deal for Cyprus that diverges from U.N. resolutions endorsing the long-established parameters of an accord that would reunify the island as a two-zone federation.
The island of Cyprus has been mired in a decadeslong dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the United Nations 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 of the island 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 United Kingdom.
The Greek Cypriot administration entered the EU in 2004, the same year Greek Cypriots thwarted the U.N. plan to end the longstanding dispute.
While Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration support a federation on Cyprus, Turkey and the TRNC insist on a two-state solution reflecting the realities of the island.