NICOSIA – Cyprus’ President-elect Nikos Christodoulides hopes to reunify the island almost 49 years after Turkish invasions seized the northern third. He said he won’t even discuss having two separate states.
That put him at immediate loggerheads with the leader of the occupied side and self-declared republic, hardliner Ersin Tatar, who said he won’t discuss anything other than that, dismissing any hope of reunification.
Christodoulides’ comments came after meeting the United Nations Special Representative Colin Stewart, a Canadian diplomat who is also head of the UN’s peacekeeping force UNFICYP, said The Cyprus Mail.
Stewart was also scheduled to meet with Tatar before the Turkish leader meets Christodoulides in an informal session, which is not expected to produce any results, although the incoming Cypriot President said he’s ready to talk.
Christodoulides told Stewart that he will stress to Tatar that the status quo is not a solution, and neither is it in the interests of either community, according to sources quoted by the Cyprus News Agency.
Christodoulides, a former foreign minister under the ruling Democratic Rally (DISY), left to mount an independent run. Although its leader, Averof Neofytou, was also running, he said the party won’t take part in the government.
Christodoulides said it was critical for the UN to send a clear message that anything other than a bizonal, bicommunal solution is not an option, although Tatar said that would bring an instant dead end for him.
Christodoulides said he’s ready to pick up from where the last round of negotiations collapsed in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana, in which he and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres were involved. The incoming President also said he wants the European Union, of which the Greek-Cypriot government is a member, to be involved in negotiations but Tatar said that won’t happen either, creating another dilemma.
The news agency said that during the meeting Stewart welcomed the proposal for the EU to take on a bigger role under the auspices of the UN even though the Turkish side said that’s a non-starter. Tatar said he doesn’t believe any of the election promises that came out of the other side and believes the Greek-Cypriots want autonomy and control of the island where Turks make up nearly 20% of the population. He said that he doesn’t mind having a coffee with Christodoulides, the report said, and that, if “the other side accepts our sensitivities, our red lines, our sovereign equality, formal negotiations can always begin with him.”