The Turkish side has always played a constructive role in the solution of the decadeslong Cyprus issue and still follows a fair and balanced policy in the face of the ongoing problems on the island, participants at a symposium on Cyprus underlined Thursday.
In the "Economic and Political Future Vision: Cyprus Symposium" organized in cooperation with Istanbul Rumeli University and consultancy firm Lob'in International, the latest developments, problems and solution proposals on the island were discussed.
Speaking at the symposium held at Istanbul Rumeli University Haliç Application and Research Campus, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Sakarya deputy and Deputy Chairperson of the Turkey-TRNC (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) Interparliamentary Friendship Group Çiğdem Erdoğan Atabek underlined the historical ties between the TRNC and Turkey, and the need for further work by Turkey for the recognition of the TRNC.
"The number of countries that recognize the TRNC should be increased. For this, we made an initiative in Azerbaijan. Hopefully, a friendship group will be formed in the Azerbaijani Parliament and commercial relations will be developed," she said.
Explaining that she witnessed strong ties between TRNC and Turkey, during her visits to the island, Atabek said that almost all Cypriot families have martyrs or veterans and that the effects of war and conflicts are still very much alive.
Fahri Ustaoğlu, president of Lob'in International, also made a speech at the symposium. Stating that the problems that occurred before and after 1974 in Cyprus still continue, he said: "The TRNC could neither become a child homeland nor an independent homeland. Among these federation and two-state solution options, we were very excited that our president voiced the two-state solution."
"We wanted to support this symposium in order to keep this excitement alive and strengthen it. I believe that the decisions taken here will shed light on the future. We will share Cyprus together, we will solve the problems together," he added.
Istanbul Rumeli University vice-rector Ahmet Mucip Gökçen emphasized that Turkey and the TRNC have always played a constructive role in the Cyprus problem and expressed the following: "There is actually no problem for Turkey. Turkey made its own decision and established the TRNC, which gained its independence against the Greeks, who showed a desire to act unilaterally in Cyprus with the powers granted to Turkey by international agreements. It provided positive developments for both Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots."
Explaining that Turkey follows a fair and balanced policy in the face of the ongoing problems in Cyprus, Gökçen said: "The problems continue because of the positions of the Greek and Greek Cypriot sides and those countries that act with them in the international arena. However, I do not think the problem will go any further. If the EU makes the Greek administration of Southern Cyprus a member, it should also make the TRNC, which was established under the same conditions, a member.
Turkey has always stood by the TRNC with all its might during these processes and will continue to do so. We need to think about how we can strengthen our presence in Cyprus, how we can use and operate new energy resources. In this respect, Cyprus is now even more important for Turkey."
TRNC deputy and head of the Maraş (Varosha) Initiative Commission, Oğuzhan Hasipoğlu, said that the Turkish side has always played a constructive role in solving the problem in Cyprus.
Touching on the federation and dual-state solution debates that continued after 1974, Hasipoğlu said: "We have worked for the federation for years, but now we have entered a different process. With the two-state solution model expressed by the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Ersin Tatar we will no longer expect the Greek Cypriots to distract us from the table.
The TRNC administration and people have always been constructive on the island. We have now put forward our new foreign policy agreement. We have demanded international equal status and expressed this on all platforms. We now have a demand for self-governance."
Touching on the issue of opening the closed Varosha, Hasipoğlu said: "We waited in uncertainty for years, but we finally opened an important region like Maraş with determination. This was one of the most important holiday centers of the Mediterranean."
Varosha was partially reopened to the public last October after having been a "ghost town" since 1974. It was abandoned after a 1984 United Nations Security Council resolution saying that only its original inhabitants can resettle the town. Entry into the town located in Turkish Cyprus was prohibited except for Turkish army personnel stationed in the TRNC.
Former Tourism and Health Minister Bülent Akarcalı also stated that academic, diplomatic and cultural studies should be emphasized in order to promote the TRNC and to be able to defend it strongly in the international arena.
Cyprus has been mired in a decadeslong dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the U.N to achieve a comprehensive settlement. Ethnic attacks starting in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece's annexation led to Turkey's military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the TRNC was founded in 1983.
It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom. The Greek Cypriot administration entered the EU in 2004, the same year Greek Cypriots thwarted the U.N.'s Annan plan to end the longstanding dispute.
Both Turkey and TRNC have said a permanent peace in Cyprus can only come through the international community’s recognition of two separate states, upending decades of negotiations to reach a federation-based reunification accord.
Most recently, Tatar said that the TRNC may hold talks with U.N. officials as well as the Greek Cypriot administration in September in New York, reiterating that a solution based on two equal sovereign states is needed.
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