ΝΙΨΟΣΙΑ – Turkish-Cypriot hardline nationalist leader Ersin Tatar has one word of advice for European Union leaders who hope the island divided by unlawful 1974 Turkish invasions will ever come together again.
Tatar and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have rejected any idea of reunification, instead demanding that the United Nations and world recognize the isolated, occupied northern third where Turkey keeps 35,000 soldiers.
Tatar, who was elected in October 2020 on a platform indicating he would follow Erdogan’s lead, said EU expectations that diplomacy will bring a federal unification are misguided, he preferring two states and permanent partition.
“They (the EU) keep doing the same thing, nothing is changing,” Tatar said in an interview with POLITICO in his office in Cyprus’ divided capital. “Federal settlement plans have been discussed for 50 years; nothing has been achieved. The United Nations knows this, Europeans know this, and they come up every six months with the same thing: that you should sit at the table to discuss Cyprus settlement on a federal basis,” he said.
Turkey does not recognize the legitimate Greek-Cypriot government that’s a member of the EU that Turkey has fruitlessly been trying to join since 2005, prospects worsening under Erdogan’s authoritarian government.
The UN keeps pushing for what is known as “a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation” in which the two communities would work together to run a unified nation although Turkish-Cypriots are less than 20 percent of the population.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said at the end of November the EU expects the resumption of Cyprus settlement talks, within the UN framework, rejecting Turkey’s push for a two-state solution.
“How can you disrespect me that much and keep insisting that [a federal settlement] is the only way forward? They should be a little bit more in the middle,” Tatar said.
“Greek Cypriots can say this, and I respect them, but the EU and the UN to come out with such statements, which totally (weigh] on their impartiality? We expect them to be more impartial, they are not, and it hurts me.”
He and Erdogan also said they don’t want the EU playing any role in the dilemma, the last round of negotiations collapsing in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana and no progress since.
Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides said any improvement in Greek-Turkish relations could also help in resolving the Cyprus issue, but there was a clear divide between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Erdoğan in their meeting in Athens.
“We disagree on the Cyprus issue, for us there is no solution other than the U.N. Security Council resolutions,” Mitsotakis said while Erdogan said that, “Achieving a just, permanent and viable solution to the Cyprus problem based on the realities on the island will benefit the whole region,” he said.
“Obviously, any kind of reconciliation can help and this is something that we welcome,” Tatar said – as long as the only offer on the table is recognition of a self-declared Republic keeping troops on an island with an EU government.
“We live here, we know the problem, we confront each other, and we want any kind of future settlement to be fair, practical, and sustainable. So, it’s up to us to open and pave the way forward,” he said.
“In the heart, we feel Europeans, yes, but we cannot be parted from Turkey, it’s our motherland,” Tatar said and added the Turkish military presence was the only way Turkish-Cypriots could feel secure.
“I only trust Turkey. I don’t want to insult anybody, but my true feeling is that nobody will risk their lives for us,” he said, Turkey also wanting the further right to invade more when it wants.