Turkish Cypriot FM: Greek Cypriot leader trying to trim equal rights on island

Published 08.11.2018 00:00

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Kudret Özersay has slammed the Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades for his attempts to "diminish the equal rights of Turkish Cypriots."

"The [Greek side] proposes for a federation system for the island and at the same time disregards equal governing of both sides, which is a sine qua non element of a federation, by trimming down the rights of Turkish Cypriots," Özersay said yesterday.

He added if this continues, the peace talks "will not be different from the 50-years of Cyprus negotiations" that failed.

Anastasiades on Tuesday said that he is opposed to the right of political equality and Turkish Cypriots' active participation in decision-making mechanisms, backtracking from his position in the 2017 peace talks.

He added that the Turkish Cypriots should only vote for decisions that can affect their vital interests instead of voting in every governmental body and a federal government ruled by what he called a "Turkish minority" is impossible to function.

Anastasiades added that Turkey's role as a guarantor country should end and Turkish troops that were placed to protect Turkish Cypriots from violence should be withdrawn to find a solution.

Pointing out that he is against the creation of a confederation of two independent states, Anastasiades defended his decentralized federation system where Turkish Cypriots' participation in the federal institution is low.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a report on the Cyprus issue to the U.N. mid-October, in a bid to restart peace talks for the island, underlining that "prospects for a comprehensive settlement based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation between the communities on the island remain alive."

Following the Guterres report, Anastasiades proposed a "loose federation" for the island as a part of the renewed talks. According to this system, the central government will possess less power while the founding governments have a great amount of authority in their affairs.

A similar partnership state between Turkish and Greek Cypriots was set up in 1960, yet it lasted only three years. The Greek Cypriots proposed amendments to the Constitution that diminished the rights of Turkish Cypriots and degraded their equal co-founder status to a minority on the Island, leading to an upsurge in violence against Turkish Cypriots.

The island has been divided since 1974 when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks and Ankara's military intervention as a guarantor power.

Negotiations over Cyprus resumed after the 2004 U.N.-backed Annan Plan to reunify the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities, though the talks have continuously stalled and resumed multiple times since they began.

The most recent talks aimed at reunifying the island hit an impasse in Switzerland last July 2017. Turkey blames Greek Cypriot intransigence for the talks' failure and has been maintaining that it has always been willing to exert the necessary efforts in finding a solution to the decades-long Cyprus issue.

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