A federation in Cyprus is no longer possible, Prime Minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Ersin Tatar has said.
He added that likely solutions should focus on the presence of two separate countries. Talking to a visiting media delegation from the Alanya Journalists Association, Tatar said: "The federation process in Cyprus is over. A formula based on the presence of two separate countries should be put on the table. Greeks will be on one side and we'll be on the other side."
He said that the Greek side must accept the existence of the Turkish side. Tatar added that they need to understand both sides are practically in the same position. Tatar underlined the recent increase in strategic importance for Cyprus and the East Mediterranean and said the country would move together with Turkey in order to protect its rights and interests. "There are some decisions taken with Turkey. We are in a serious process to protect our rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean," said Tatar underlying the importance of cooperation with Turkey as a regional power in the region. 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 a decade of inter-ethnic 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. 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 part of Turkey's shelf, particularly in Blocks 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7.
Saying unilateral exploration deprives the Turkish Cypriot minority of benefiting from the island's natural resources, Turkey has ramped up efforts in the Eastern Mediterranean and sent its first drilling vessel, Fatih, to the area east of Cyprus until Sept. 3, 2019.
Turkey's first seismic vessel, the Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa, bought from Norway in 2013, has been carrying out exploration work in the Mediterranean since April 2017.
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