NICOSIA — Former Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci warned that his successor, hardliner Ersin Tatar and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are making a critical mistake pursuing two separate states on the island instead of unity.
In two social media posts hours apart, he said that approach is a certain failure when it will be put on the table at an informal conference on the divided island.
That will bring together officials from the United Nations, Cyprus and the three guarantors of security: Turkey, Greece and the former Colonial ruler the United Kingdom, which still has military bases there.
Akinci , a moderate, lost his re-election bid in October, 2020 to the ultra-nationalist Tatar who said he will do what Erdogan tells him and wants the occupied side of Turkey, unrecognized in the world, to be an accepted state.
That goes ahead decades of talks aimed at reunifying the island after an unlawful 1974 invasion in which Turkey seized the northern third, where it still keeps a 35,000-strong standing army.
That drove Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades away from the bargaining table and brought collapse of the last round of secret talks in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana.
Akinci and Erdogan also demanded the right of military intervention but the former leader of the Turkish-Cypriot side fell out of favor with Erdogan who wanted two states and kept up drilling for oil and gas in Cypriot waters.
Akinci responded to a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement criticizing the UN Security Council for reiterating its stance supporting a bizonal, bicommunal federation, a policy pursued for decades, The Cyprus Mail said.
The Turkish foreign ministry said the UNSC reaffirmation was unacceptable.
“A different expectation .. would be absurd,” Akinci said.
“But there is not much time left for those who imagined that they could put [a solution with] two separately recognised states on the table of a five-party conference and expect it to be acceptable,” he added.
Trying to build good relations with the EU and the new US administration and at the same time rooting for secession in Cyprus “cannot be possible”, said Akinci, the paper added.
“This game that is being tried in the north of Cyprus can not be supported on almost any international platform,” he said although Tatar and Erdogan said that’s their plan and they’re sticking to it.
Later, Akinci posted a reminder what happened the last time the Turkish side tried to put two states on the table in 2004, a year in which Turkish-Cypriots supported a plan offered by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which was rejected by the Cypriot side, a member of the European Union.
In the years prior to 2004, he said, he had warned from the floor of the ‘parliament’ that the result of that policy would not end in recognition of the ‘TRNC,” the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
He had also warned, he added, that pursuing that policy would only result in the entry of “southern Cyprus” to the EU with the name of the whole of Cyprus in terms of international law. “Unfortunately, this happened,” said Akinci.
“Now, (some) want us to walk the same wrong path as if we have not learned any lessons from the past. If the goal is what they have said, that is, to accept two recognised states in Cyprus with a separate international identity, this will not be possible to achieve at the five-party conference,” he warned.
“If all sides play with time and it is said … that no common ground was found then it is clear where all this will end: Yes, there will be two states, but on the one hand it will be the Republic of Cyprus and on the other hand the Republic of Turkey,” he added, alluding to possible annexation of the occupied territory by Turkey.