Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he is hopeful that restarted comprehensive settlement negotiations between newly elected Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci and Greek Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiadis could bear fruit to find a concrete resolution for the Cyprus issue.
During a live interview on the private Turkish NTV channel, Erdogan said, “I wish this road goes to a resolution. If a positive result emerges from these negotiations, the Cyprus issue could no longer be recognised as a political problem.”
“If both northern Cyprus and southern Cyprus are recognised as the founding states in the negotiations, a serious step will be taken forward,” he added.
The Turkish President also emphasised the significance of a joint declaration by the two sides on February 11, 2014. He said Anastasiadis looked positively on the joint declaration at the time but stepped back later.
Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders met in the United Nations buffer zone in Cyprus on last year under the auspices of the organisation's envoy to the island, Espen Barth Eide. They issued a joint declaration following the meeting.
The declaration said, “The status quo is unacceptable and its prolongation will have negative consequences for the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.” It also stated that there should be a settlement based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation along with political equality.
“There will be a single united Cyprus citizenship, regulated by federal law. All citizens of the united Cyprus shall also be citizens of either the Greek Cypriot constituent state or the Turkish Cypriot constituent state,” it added.
Mustafa Akinci, following the elections, spoke about his desire to restart negotiations with the Greek Cypriots.
Akinci and Anastasiades toured Nicosia’s historical sites on May 23, in what was called an unprecedented move, and their meetings will resume on May 28.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, during his visit to the speaker of the TRNC [Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus] Parliament in Cyprus, “There will hopefully be a permanent and just resolution based on a bi-communality and political equality in the framework of February 11th joint declaration along with the support of the TRNC parliament.”
Cavusoglu stated that he will join with the meeting of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Kuwait following his Cyprus visit and raise the Cyprus issue there during the session.
He also touched upon Turkey’s water supply project to northern Cyprus when he visited the TRNC prime minister in his office. He said he hopes the project could be effective by July 20 and the water supplied, which he called “the water of peace,” could also be given to the southern Cypriots.
On July 20, 1974, the Turkish government militarily intervened the northern part of the island with the intention of protecting the Turkish population after a short-lived Greek-orchestrated coup on the island aimed at union with Greece (a concept known in Greek as Enosis).
Since 1974, the island has been divided into two spheres of government, the south being governed by the Greek Cypriot administration and the north being governed by the Turkish Cypriots.
The island became independent in 1960 as the Republic of Cyprus and three countries, Turkey, Greece, and Britain, were made its guarantor states, according to the Zürich and London Agreements. Having a diverse population of both Greeks and Turks, following the establishment of the Republic many disagreements emerged between the ethnic groups on the island who failed to resolve their differences.
The last major effort to break the deadlock and settle the Cyprus dispute was the Annan Plan, the UN proposal for the federation and consequent accession of a united Cyprus to the EU in 2004 initiated by then Secretary General Kofi Annan. While the Turkish Cypriots approved the plan, the Greek Cypriots rejected it overwhelmingly and entered the EU alone.
Erdogan has also commented on Turkey’s guarantorship of Cyprus and said “We will never renounce our rights existing as a result of being a guarantor state.”
He criticised efforts to make the EU a guarantor of Cyprus and underlined that the EU has already failed to fulfill its own duties following the rejection of the Annan Plan by the Greek Cypriots in 2004.
“We can not forget these facts. We have to make sure above everything that our brothers and kin will be safe in the northern Cyprus,” he added.
The 1960 Treaty of Guarantee states that guarantor powers have a duty to prevent the Republic of Cyprus from participating in any political or economic union with any other state or the partition of the island.