As Cyprus paid tribute on Tuesday to the victims of the Turkish invasion in 1974, Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar said 3.5% of the fenced-off town of Varosha will be demilitarised, maintaining his determination for a two-state solution.
Tatar made the announcement accompanied by Turkey’s President following a parade in northern Nicosia marking the 47th anniversary of the Turkish invasion. The declaration brought the swift response of the government of the Republic of Cyprus and President Nicos Anastasiades.
Addressing the ceremony, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reaffirmed Turkey’s determination to pursue a two-state solution.
He added that, “from now on they will no longer view the dispute on the island as one between the north and the south, rather than one involving the Turks of Cyprus”.
Arguing that Turkey will not accept any other solution other than a two-state one, Erdogan said, “no-one should expect us to back down from this position from this moment onwards. We do not have another 50 years to waste”.
Erdogan argued that Tatar’s proposal for a two-state solution tabled at Geneva at the end of April during informal talks with President Nicos Anastasiades and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, was a realistic model for a settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Tatar had submitted a two-page document outlining the Turkish Cypriot vision for a peace accord based on a two-state model rather than a bizonal, bicommunal federation composed of Greek-speaking and Turkish-speaking zones, in accordance with UN resolutions.
The Turkish President said, “no progress can be achieved without accepting that in Cyprus there are two separate, but equal states, two different people with a different religion, language and culture”.
He said that Greek Cypriots, “who said ‘no’ to the Annan plan in 2004, and left the negotiation table in Crans Montana, are detached from reality and continue to exhibit a ‘spoilt’ behaviour”.
Breathing new life
Erdogan also said that in cooperation with the ruling coalition in the occupied north, they will be breathing new life into the ghost town of Varosha, fenced off since Turkey occupied it in 1974.
Tatar announced that the military status of a part of the abandoned city will be lifted, which will pave the way for the active involvement of the “Property Commission” in the project.
He said that a pilot scheme will see the opening of 3.5% of the fenced town.
He argued that new grievances over property issues will not be created in Varosha. On the contrary, they will be eliminated, with respect to the owners’ rights.
“The doors of a new era will open with Varosha for the benefit of all, with the work done with respect for property rights. Now, a process will begin in the interest of all,” Erdogan said. He repeated Tatar’s declaration saying that in Varosha life will start again and the hostage situation will be lifted.
Cyprus government spokesman Marios Pelekanos said the president has instructed the foreign minister to brief the UN Security Council about the developments ahead of the discussion on Wednesday of the UN Secretary General’s reports.
Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides is set to brief the ambassadors of the five Security Council permanent members in the afternoon and will later brief the ambassadors of the 26 EU members.
Furthermore, President Nicos Anastasiades has convened a meeting of the National Council for 11am on Wednesday to decide further measures.
Objections from within
Meanwhile, Erdogan addressed reactions from the international arena and from within the Turkish Cypriot community, reflecting the objection of a large part of the community in the north to Erdogan’s heavy hand in internal matters.
Lawmakers from two left-wing parties, the Republican Turkish Party (CTP) and the Communal Liberation Party (TDP) which garnered a combined 30% of the vote in the 2018 parliamentary elections, boycotted Erdogan’s address in the assembly to underscore the point.
However, Erdogan said that reactions of the international community and local actors were like empty words to his ears.
Addressing the Turkish Cypriot assembly, Erdogan also promised an upgrade of infrastructure in the north.
“Our joining forces, from a political, economic and social point of view, will bring about the prosperity of the Turkish Cypriot people”.
Erdogan added that in May, he had inaugurated the water pipeline bringing fresh water from Turkey to the north, after a fault that had left it offline for over a year.
Turkey’s plans include upgrading infrastructure in the north, enhancing ties with the breakaway regime, include the construction of an electricity interconnector with Turkish Cypriots committed to promoting the project, and a natural gas pipeline.