Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Ersin Tatar bid farewell to the outgoing head of the United Nations peacekeeping force on the island of Cyprus.
Canadian diplomat Elizabeth Spehar paid a farewell visit to Tatar in Lefkoşa, the Turkish Cypriot capital. Spehar will leave her post at the end of September, after serving as the force's head since June 2016.
Tatar thanked Spehar for her contributions toward reconciliation on the island and her support for the work of the bilateral technical committees.
Tatar told reporters that during the meeting he again laid out the position of the Turkish Cypriot side on the Cyprus issue, namely that any solution must be based on two sovereign, equal nations on the island.
Tatar noted that next week he would travel to New York to hold various talks, including with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, as part of the U.N. General Assembly meetings.
"I told Spehar that there is no change, and there will be none, in the position of the Turkish Cypriot side. Considering the realities of Cyprus, what we seek from the international community and the U.N. is the acceptance of an agreement on the basis of equality," Tatar said.
Spehar, for her part, thanked Tatar and his team for their cooperation during her tenure.
Spehar expressed hope that Tatar's meeting with Guterres would yield a positive result.
The 76th session of the General Assembly will open on Sept. 14, and the first day of the high-level General Debate will be Sept. 21.
The divided island has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including the failed 2017 Crans-Montana Conference in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom and the latest U.N. 5+1 Cyprus talks in Geneva, which ended without any concrete result.
Diplomats in April had tried to make headway to end the decades-old conflict between rival Greek and Turkish Cypriots that destabilizes the Eastern Mediterranean and is a key source of tension between NATO allies Greece and Turkey.
However, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that there is "no common ground yet" to resume formal negotiations on the settlement of the Cyprus problem.
The island has been divided since 1964, when ethnic attacks forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aiming at Greece's annexation led to Turkey's military intervention as a guarantor power. The TRNC was founded in 1983.
While Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration support a federation on Cyprus, Turkey and the TRNC insist on a two-state solution reflecting the realities on the island.
The Greek Cypriot administration, backed by Greece, became a member of the European Union in 2004, even though most Greek Cypriots rejected a U.N. settlement plan in a referendum that year that had envisaged a reunited Cyprus joining the EU.
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