Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus claimed that Turkish Cypriots cannot be entitled to the same rights as the island's Greek population, a report said Sunday.
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) President Ersin Tatar's request that Turkish Cypriots be granted the same rights as Greek Cypriots so negotiations can recommence is unacceptable, the archbishop said.
"This cannot happen," he said, stressing that they cannot be granted rights equal to those of the Greeks, Kathimerini reported.
He also claimed that the TRNC's former President Mustafa Akıncı was more "Cypriot" than the current President Tatar because he did not seek a two-state solution.
Chrysostomos II added the church has favorable relations with people who genuinely feel "Cypriot."
"However, we do not have such favorable relations with people who feel Turkish first and Cypriot second because they want a Turkish state in Cyprus," he said.
Tatar has been advocating for a two-state solution on the island as decades of negotiations for a federation have failed to resolve the Cyprus issue, often underlining that there is still no common ground between the TRNC and the Greek Cypriots.
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.
In the early 1960s, ethnic attacks forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aiming at Greece's annexation of the island led to Turkey's military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded in 1983.
The island 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 European Union in 2004, the same year that Greek Cypriots thwarted the U.N.'s Annan plan to end the decadeslong dispute.
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