Ersin Tatar, president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, rejects any status for Turkish Cypriots under the so-called "Republic of Cyprus", saying a two-state solution is the only viable option to settle the decades-old dispute.
Turkish Cypriots neither want to be an authority under a so-called "Republic of Cyprus" nor a minority on the divided island, the president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) has said.
"We, Turkish Cypriots, don't want to be an authority under the Republic of Cyprus. We don't want to be a minority on the island," Ersin Tatar said in an interview with Greek Cypriot newspaper Filelefheros.
"The reality is that there are two different peoples on the island: Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots," said Tatar urging Greek Cypriots to "accept and reaffirm the sovereign equality of Turkish Cypriots."
He said due to the EU membership and international recognition of the Greek Cypriot administration there was an imbalance between the two sides on the negotiating table.
"We aren't recognised, but we have a separate state. We want recognition of our sovereign equality and our equal international status," he added.
Turkish and Turkish Cypriot officials have argued that a two-state solution would be the fairest way to solve the ongoing dispute on the long-divided island.
Tatar said he had told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that formal negotiations could not begin as there was no common ground between the sides, stressing that despite this, he was ready to partake in informal dialogue.
"I told the British ambassador, who was here a few days ago: 'Invite me and Anastasiadis to London for dialogue in a different environment where we can speak and discuss," he said referring to his counterpart and Greek Cypriot leader Nikos Anastasiadis.
"There may not be common ground today, but there maybe two years later. We must continue the dialogue for a better Cyprus with our hopes, which are revived constantly," he added.
"If the adoption of our international recognition, sovereign equality is brought before the UN Security Council, it passed, and if Greek Cypriots do not object to this, we can negotiate the Cyprus problem in all its aspects," he emphasised, adding, that there have been two separate states on the island for 60 years and Greek Cypriots and the international community must accept this fact.
'We want our share'
Tatar explained the reasons why the Turkish Cypriot side insists on demanding sovereign equality and equal international status together with the historical process, noting that the Greek leadership wanted to connect the island to Greece long ago.
There are many documents indicating that this movement began from 1878 when the British arrived on the Island, he said.
The Greek Cypriot side wrongly believes it owns all of the island and the rights to its exclusive economic zone in the Eastern Mediterranean, Tatar said, underscoring Turkish Cypriots only wanted their "fair share" of rights to hydrocarbons in the island's surrounding waters.
"We don't want your share, we want our share," said the Turkish Cypriot leader, adding that the TRNC "trusts Turkiye and moves with Turkiye."
He also noted that Turkiye's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had proposed to discuss these issues in a conference, but that the Greek side had turned down this offer.
Decades of dispute
The Mediterranean island has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek Cypriots 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 of the island led to Turkiye'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 Turkiye, Greece and the UK.
The Greek Cypriot administration entered the European Union in 2004, the same year Greek Cypriots thwarted a UN plan to end the longstanding dispute.