Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) are on the same page regarding the effort to protect their rights in the Eastern Mediterranean, TRNC Prime Minister Ersin Tatar said Thursday, as Greece continues to target Turkey’s drilling activities in the region.
“We demand our fair share in the Eastern Mediterranean with Turkey and will not let our rights be overridden,” Tatar told Anadolu Agency (AA), adding that it is the TRNC’s “philosophy” to act 100% in harmony with Turkey in the Mediterranean.
“We confirm that we have no intention to concede a bit of our land or a bit of water in our Blue Homeland as Turkish officials say,” Tatar said, adding that he believes the issue is more critical than thought.
Tatar added that Turkey’s determined military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean strengthens the TRNC. He noted that cooperation with Turkey has ensured that the TRNC’s claims are taken seriously and its existence is recognized.
Regarding the maritime deal signed between Greece and Egypt, Tatar said it is not acceptable and is a plot against Turkey and Libya’s agreement.
“We cannot accept that Greece and Egypt sign a deal based on the island of Rhodes and a few small islands. All of this is a plot and is an invasion of Turkey and TRNC’s rights and interests with the inclusion of the European Union,” Tatar said.
Turkey and Libya's U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) signed two separate pacts on Nov. 27 last year: one ensuring military cooperation and the other on shared maritime boundaries of the countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The maritime pact asserted Turkey's rights in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of unilateral drilling by the Greek Cypriot administration, clarifying that the TRNC also had rights to the resources in the area. The pact took effect on Dec. 8, 2019.
Tatar noted that Turkey shares a 1,800-kilometer (1,118-mile) coastline, the longest in the Eastern Mediterranean and is entitled to claim its rights, as he urged the European Union to stop accepting Greece’s diplomatic exploitation and plots.
Tatar also touched upon the issue of opening the ghost town of Maraş (Varosha), which has been closed for 46 years, saying that the TRNC plans to return the properties and estate to their former owners.
“The property owners will welcome the opening of Maraş. They can develop, use or sell their properties under TRNC administration if they wish to. I believe the rest will come slowly after we take this step as the town gradually opens and the economic life is revived,” Tatar said.
The TRNC prime minister refrained from giving an exact date for the town’s opening, as he said they are still discussing the matter and do not want to exploit it as election propaganda.
“It is not right to exploit Maraş as an election tool as it is a national matter,” Tatar said.
On June 18, the TRNC decided after 45 years to open the ghost town Varosha (Maraş) near Famagusta (Gazimağosa) for settlement amid heightened tension in the Eastern Mediterranean. What was once a paradise of luxury cars, hotels, villas, superb beaches and a destination for the rich and famous has turned into a desolated place since 1974 when in the same year, Turkish military forces intervened on the island following a Greek-inspired coup. The coup followed with decadelong 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 decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all ending in failure.
Maraş is located on the "Green Line," which is the present-day border between the two communities and was closed for settlement subsequent to a U.N. decision in 1974.
The city is protected by a 1984 U.N. Security Council resolution, stating that the empty town can only be resettled by its original inhabitants.