The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) needs Ankara's guarantorship "more than ever," Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said yesterday.
"If Turkey hadn't provided guarantorship, the rights of Turkish Cypriots would have been exploited. To me, it is needed more than ever," Çavuşoğlu said in an interview with the Greek daily Kathimerini.
Çavuşoğlu said "new options" should be evaluated after the latest negotiation process, the Conference on Cyprus, ended without an outcome in Crans Montana in July 2017.
He noted Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades put forward ideas, such as a federal model in Cyprus. "Different options should be evaluated. We do not impose any of these different options, and we do not exclude any of them but let's determine what to negotiate ... and then go for a result-oriented negotiation," the minister said.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey used its guarantor rights to intervene on the island after a far-right Greek Cypriot military coup sponsored by the military junta then in power in Athens sought to unite the island with Greece. The coup followed decade-long, interethnic violence and terrorism targeting Turkish Cypriots, who were forced to live in enclaves when Greek Cypriots unilaterally changed the constitution in 1963 and stripped the island's Turks of their political rights.
The TRNC, established in 1983 on the northern one-third of the island, is only recognized by Turkey and faces a longstanding embargo in commerce, transportation and culture. Meanwhile, the Greek Cypriot administration enjoys recognition by the international community as the Republic of Cyprus, established in 1960, which is a member of the EU.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the U.K. ended in 2017 in Switzerland.
Çavuşoğlu added that Anastasiades was responsible for the unsuccessful negotiations, saying: "He [Anastasiades] does not believe in political equality. There is an understanding that does not want to share anything with the Turkish Cypriot side."
"We say that what we are going to negotiate this time should be clear at first," he added.
About Turkey's drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, Çavuşoğlu said Ankara would not relinquish its legitimate rights to oil and gas exploration there. Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area. The unilaterally declared exclusive economic zone of the Greek Cypriot Administration violates parts of Turkey's shelf, particularly in Blocks 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7.
Since spring this year, Ankara has sent two drilling vessels, Fatih and most recently Yavuz, to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the right of Turkey and the TRNC to the resources of the region.